Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Political Digest for July 20, 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.

Debt Ceiling
The bind the Republicans are in is that if they stand firm and there are negative results, the media will convince the public that the problems were caused by the Republicans not giving in, ignoring that the problems could also have been avoided by Obama and the Democrats giving in. In 1995, the media convinced the public the phony “government shutdown” was the GOP’s fault, helping to re-elect Clinton. They never mentioned that Clinton could have avoided it by giving in as well. And if the voters turn against the GOP and re-elect Obama and a Democrat Congress in 2012—game over for the country. 60 years of vote-buying with borrowed money has put us in a zugzwang.

Budget Cuts
The media keeps reporting Obama has offered cuts. From what I have read, he’s tossed out numbers but not given any specific programs he would cut. All smoke and mirrors, like not producing a budget, them blaming Republicans for cuts when they produce one.

Always worth reading: Good Things By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Life has many good things. The problem is that most of these good things can be gotten only by sacrificing other good things. We all recognize this in our daily lives. It is only in politics that this simple, common sense fact is routinely ignored. In politics, there are not simply good things but some special Good Things -- with a capital G and capital T -- which are considered always better to have more of. Many of the things advocated by environmental extremists, for example, are things that most of us might think of as good things. But, in politics, they become Good Things whose repercussions and costs are brushed aside as unworthy considerations. Nobody wants to breathe dirty air or drink dirty water. But, if either becomes 98 percent pure, 99 percent pure or 99.9 percent pure, there is some point beyond which the costs skyrocket and the benefits become meager or non-existent. If the slightest trace of any impurity were fatal, the human race would have become extinct thousands of years ago.

Why Republicans don’t fear a debt default
Wolf! Wolf! And if there really is a wolf, BO? Excerpt: But, a majority of Republicans in a new Pew Research Center poll don’t seem concerned. At all. Fifty-three percent of self-identified Republicans (and 65 percent of those who say they support the tea party) said the country can go past the deadline without any serious economic consequences. “This is a case where the messenger has become the message,” explained Republican pollster Chris Wilson. “The two groups — Wall Street and the federal government — pushing the narrative that not raising the debt ceiling would be a catastrophe are two groups that an overwhelming majority of Americans don’t trust these days.” To back up his point, Wilson noted that Gallup’s most recent “confidence” index showed that just 12 percent of people trust Congress and less than one in five (19 percent) trust big business. And, in a new Washington Post/Pew poll, not a single one of the major political figures involved in the debt-ceiling negotiations had the trust of a majority of Americans to do the right thing. Cutting through all the numbers, the reality for many Republicans is that they simply don’t believe that we are on the verge of crisis, and it’s virtually impossible — given their distrust of the country’s major institutions — for anyone or anything to convince them otherwise.

Excerpt: I believe in Las Vegas. I think its best days are ahead of it. But I'm afraid to do anything in the current political environment in the United States. You watch television and see what's going on on this debt ceiling issue. And what I consider to be a total lack of leadership from the President and nothing's going to get fixed until the President himself steps up and wrangles both parties in Congress. But everybody is so political, so focused on holding their job for the next year that the discussion in Washington is nauseating. And I'm saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems, that keeps using that word redistribution. Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration. And it makes you slow down and not invest your money. Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America. You bet and until we change the tempo and the conversation from Washington, it's not going to change. And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don't want to say that. They'll say, God, don't be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama's deal and it's Obama that's responsible for this fear in America. ... Everybody's afraid of the government and there's no need soft peddling it, it's the truth. It is the truth. And that's true of Democratic businessman and Republican businessman, and I am a Democratic businessman and I support Harry Reid.

Pentagon Struggles To Keep Ships Sailing, Planes Flying As Budget Cuts Loom
Excerpt: The U.S. military faces a readiness crisis. A recent Congressional hearing generated headlines about the Navy's surface fleet falling into disrepair. But that was news four years ago. Across all the services, long-standing readiness problems are worsening; breakdowns are happening more frequently. Several years ago, an Air Force F-15C literally broke in half during flight. Since then, two F-18s have caught fire aboard ships. Today, every single cruiser hull has cracks; A-10C Warthogs have fuselage cracks, and the UH-1N Twin Huey helicopter fleet is regularly grounded. Over half the Navy's deployed aircraft are not ready for combat. This is just a sample of the readiness problems plaguing those who serve in uniform. U.S. forces and their military commanders are putting on a brave face. But it's beyond irresponsible for Congress and the Obama administration to not provide the resources needed to address the problems immediately. After a decade of constant combat and ever-increasing disaster relief and homeland defense missions, readiness among all U.S. military services -- National Guard and Reserves included -- is dangerously lower. Symptoms included delayed, shortened, and less diverse training; plugging personnel and equipment shortfalls in deploying units with resources from others; reduced maintenance for worn-out equipment; and shortened rest time before redeploying overseas. But is Washington listening? (Why would Congress or Obama care? Mostly not their kids flying or sailing on these ships. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Forget all the numbers being tossed around in Washington -- the millions and billions and trillions of dollars being taxed, borrowed, printed and spent as the country approaches the Aug. 2 debt-ceiling deadline. Forget the political jockeying for position between a president desperately seeking re-election in 16 months and a Congress equally desperately seeking not to be blamed for spending even more money that we don't have. Forget the fact that such "entitlements" as Social Security and Medicare -- social-insurance programs that the public long thought to be actuarially sound -- have been exposed as little more than legal Ponzi schemes, paying today's benefits out of tomorrow's borrowed receipts. Instead, just ask yourself this simple question: When did it become the primary function of the federal government to send millions of Americans checks?

Tom Coburn unveils $9 trillion plan
Coburn for President! I wish. ~Bob. Excerpt: Sen. Tom Coburn unveiled a politically volatile package that would take an ax to federal agencies, dramatically overhaul entitlement programs and raise tax revenues — slicing a staggering $9 trillion from the national debt over 10 years. On Monday, the conservative Oklahoma senator released a 614-page report that has virtually no chance of becoming law because it would turn off just about everyone in Washington. But Coburn, a blunt and combative pol who plans to retire in 2016, says that’s exactly the point: Every interest group and both parties need to swallow bitter political pills in order to put the country on a sustainable fiscal path. “Nine trillion dollars is very reasonable,” he told a room full of reporters, his aides and TV cameras on the third floor of the Senate. “That sounds idiotic to Washington. … It is time to show the American people not only what is possible, but what is necessary.” (I liked the idea of decreasing the size of the federal government from 20-25%. (Who needs ANOTHER federal agency? We got one today. Bureau of Consumer protection. I don’t know about you, but my interest rates increased because of this federal intervention…. Barb)

Fixing the Farm Bill
Excerpt: Farm Bill programs transfer taxpayer and additional consumer dollars to relatively wealthy farmers from generally less wealthy nonfarm families. Some programs serve no purpose other than to give farmers and landowners handouts. Other programs are even worse because they combine handouts with required market distortions and simple waste, say Barry K. Goodwin, a professor at North Carolina State University, Vincent H. Smith, a professor of agricultural economics at Montana State University, and Daniel A. Sumner, a professor at the University of California, Davis. Among the farm programs to be eliminated, the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE) crop disaster program should rank high on the list. Almost all crop producers can obtain heavily subsidized federal crop insurance to cover up to 75 or 80 percent of their potential yields or per-acre revenues. The $2 billion per year spent on the SURE program gives many farmers 90 percent insurance coverage at no additional cost almost every year. The best solution for subsidized crop insurance is to eliminate the subsidy and let the program compete in the commercial market. Other countries deliver subsidized agricultural insurance schemes at a much lower cost per dollar of subsidy accruing to farmers. Reforming the crop insurance delivery system could almost certainly save over $1 billion of taxpayer funds. And reducing producer subsidies by about 20 percent (from 59 percent of the actuarially fair premium to only 47 percent for the most frequently purchased insurance policies) would save about another $500 million dollars. Cotton, dairy subsidy, and sugar programs also need to be eliminated. All three programs create substantive problems for the United States in trade relations and trade negotiations, and inhibit the development of agricultural export markets, say Goodwin, Smith and Sumner.

The Cost and Economic Impact of New Jersey's Offshore Wind Initiative
The more “affordable green energy” the Greenies push, the more it costs working families. ~Bob. Excerpt: A law that orders the state of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to develop an offshore wind energy certificate program that would support at least 1,100 megawatts (MWs) of generation from qualified offshore wind projects was signed by Governor Chris Christie on August 19, 2010. The law also provides subsidies to potential offshore wind developers. Researchers at the Beacon Hill Institute have conducted a cost-benefit analysis of 1,100 MWs of offshore wind power for New Jersey. The findings are as follows. The project will produce a net cost of $3.245 billion to New Jersey, within a range of $2.106 billion and $4.137 billion. New Jersey's electricity prices will increase by 2.1 percent in 2017, within a range of 0.5 percent and 4.2 percent. From 2017 to 2036, the average household ratepayer will pay $431 in higher electricity costs; the average commercial ratepayer will pay an extra $3,054 and the average industrial ratepayer an extra $109,335. By 2017 New Jersey will lose an average of 2,219 jobs, within a range of 528 jobs and 4,440 jobs. Annual wages will fall by an average of $111 per worker, within a range of $26 per worker and $222 per worker. Real disposable income will fall by $330 million, within a range of $79 million and $660 million. Net investment will fall by $48 million, within a range of $11 million and $95 million.

McConnell's fallback plan gains steam
Excerpt: Senate aides say a fallback plan to give President Obama authority to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit will soon become “plan A” for averting a national default.
Publicly, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) have made votes on the Cut, Cap and Balance Act and a balanced-budget amendment their priority this week.

House Republicans seeking an alternative debt-ceiling plan
Excerpt: With House Republicans leery of a backup debt plan that is gaining steam in the Senate, GOP leaders are pushing ahead with White House talks aimed at striking a deficit-reduction deal that can pass Congress. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) returned to the White House on Sunday for a secret meeting with President Obama, cognizant that many of their rank-and-file members believe the plan offered by Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) represents an unacceptable abdication of congressional authority to the president.

Coburn rejoins Gang of Six, backs $3.7T deficit-reduction plan
Excerpt: Democratic and Republican senators are rallying behind a $3.7 trillion deficit reduction plan unveiled Tuesday morning by the five remaining members of the Gang of Six. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who pulled out of the Gang of Six in May, has rejoined the group and praised the plan as something that could win the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. “The plan has moved significantly and it’s where we need to be and it’s a start,” Coburn said. “This doesn’t solve our problems but it creates the way forward where we can solve our problems.”

German official warns US against cuts to joint missile program
Excerpt: A top German defense official has told the Pentagon that eliminating or trimming Washington's financial contribution to a missile defense program it is developing with Berlin and Rome "is not an option." The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is slated to become "the basis for the German air-defense architecture" and that nation's portion of an envisioned NATO missile defense system, Detlef Selhausen, the German Federal Ministry of Defense's director of armaments, wrote to Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter.

European banks see debt threat in U.S. as well as at home
Excerpt: The deadlock in Washington over how to avoid a government default increasingly threatens to strike another blow to Europe’s ailing financial system because of the tremendous sum of Treasury bonds and other U.S. debt held by banks across the Atlantic. If the United States defaults and its top-notch credit rating is downgraded, European banks may have to add to the reserves they set aside as a safeguard because of the heightened risk they would lose money on the U.S. bonds. European banks hold nearly half a trillion dollars in U.S. debt This demand for a larger buffer would come when many of the banks are under pressure to come up with enough capital in case of losses on bonds issued by Greece, Portugal and other European governments wracked by financial crises. A prolonged period of default by the United States could trigger cascading bank failures that upend Europe’s vulnerable financial system and in turn wreak even more damage in the United States.

Nevada Man Sues DMV For Rejecting ‘GOPALIN’ License Plate as ‘Vulgar’
Well, to a government employee, anyone who is for smaller government, cutting taxes or controlling spending seems “vulgar.” ~Bob. Excerpt: A Nevada man is suing the DMV after his request for a vanity plate reading “GOPALIN” was allegedly denied. The DMV reportedly denies personalized license plate requests expressing what it considers to be “contempt, ridicule or superiority of … political affiliation“ and deemed GOPALIN as either ”vulgar“ or ”inappropriate.” Meanwhile, James Linlor, the man suing, claims that when he later requested a “GO OBAMA” license plate the DMV happily obliged. The Douglas County resident reportedly filed his complaint July 15 in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

75% See Middle Class Tax Hikes As Likely in Debt Ceiling Deal
Excerpt: When politicians talk about cutting government spending and raising taxes on the wealthy, voters are skeptical about the spending cuts and expect middle class taxes to go up, too. Still, 76% say it’s likely the debt ceiling will be increased before the government begins defaulting on its debts. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 12% of Likely U.S. Voters think it unlikely that the debt ceiling will be raised on time. These figures include 36% who say it’s Very Likely a deal will be reached before the default deadline and only two percent (2%) who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.) While expecting the debt ceiling to go up, voters question whether spending will go down. Forty-eight percent (48%) say it’s likely the debt ceiling will go up without significant spending cuts being made, with 19% who think it's Very Likely. Just 42% consider that outcome unlikely, including 11% who say it's Not At All Likely. But if a deal is made to cut spending and raise taxes only on the wealthy, 75% think the end result is likely to include a middle class tax hike.

Generic Congressional Ballot: Republicans 44%, Democrats 38%
If Republicans actually propose what’s needed to save the country, the results would be: Kick the can down the road or hurt everyone but me: 98%. Doing what’s needed. 2%. Though I may be too optimistic here. ~Bob.

First Lady Now Requires 26 Servants
Excerpt: In my own life, in my own small way, I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much,” she said. “See, that’s why I left a job at a big law firm for a career in public service— Michelle Obama. She is served by twenty-six attendants, including a hair dresser and make-up artist. The annual cost to taxpayers for such unprecedented attention is approximately $1,750,000 without taking into account the expense of the lavish benefit packages afforded to every attendant. (Her “career in public service” included a job at the University of Chicago. After Barack got elected to the US Senate, her salary more than doubled, but UC got a good ROI—Obama directed a multi-million dollar earmark to them. Nice payoff. After she left to go to DC, UC Chicago eliminated her job. Not needed any more. Some public service. ~Bob.)

US and Libya in face-to-face talks
Excerpt:  The US and Libya on Saturday held their first face-to-face talks since the conflict in Libya began four months ago, officials from both governments have confirmed. But the two sides disagreed about what was discussed – and what happens next. The three-hour talks were held on neutral ground in Tunisia. (…) The discussions took place amid concern in the US and Europe that the conflict – which Britain and France expected to lead quickly to Gaddafi's exit – was dragging on. Washington, too, is keen on a quick resolution, with Barack Obama conscious of the war weariness in the US, with Libya coming on top of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Pity the poor diplomats. It has to be difficult to negotiate a “peace” when no one is doing anything but “kinetic action” (sounds sort of like a women’s exercise class, doesn’t it? Maybe we’ll have Jazz-ercize in Syria? Step-o-bics in Iran?). And Congress won’t have to approve any treaties, either. Ron P.)

Out of Sync: Government and Private Employee Compensation in Illinois
Excerpt: Overall, the average compensation for an Illinois government worker is higher than the average compensation for a private sector worker in Illinois. It is estimated that in 2008: Compensation per state government employee averaged $69,500, which is 23 percent more than the private sector worker average of $56,500. Much of the difference was in employer-paid benefits, which were more than 1.5 times that of private employees. State employees received 16 percent more in wages and salaries than private employees. Compensation per local government employee averaged $63,100, which is 12 percent more than the private sector worker average of $56,500. Much of the difference was in employer-paid benefits, which were more than 1.5 times that of private employees. Local government employees received 4 percent more in wages and salaries than private employees.

Conservative Solutions, White House Attacks
Excerpt: With the nation staring down $14 trillion in debt, a Senate that has failed to pass a budget in 811 days, and a government that can't decide how to raise the debt ceiling, you might think that a plan to get spending under control and solve the debt ceiling impasse would be a welcome breath of fresh air in Washington. Well, it might be, unless you're President Barack Obama or liberals on Capitol Hill. Today, the U.S. House is set to vote on a Republican-sponsored plan known as "Cut, Cap, and Balance" that "would cut spending by $5.8 trillion over 10 years, cap future spending and require Congress to approve a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget before raising the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion," as The Wall Street Journal reports.

The army's coming home claims upbeat First Minister
Excerpt: He said: "Some important concerns must be addressed, and they must be addressed quickly. The communities of Moray and Fife have already been kept waiting long enough for today's decision and Fife should not be left hanging any longer to find out about the detail of the transition. "It is bitterly disappointing that the RAF is to be withdrawn from Leuchars. We campaigned vigorously alongside the people of Moray and Fife to keep the RAF in both Lossiemouth and Leuchars. There is an overwhelming case to keep both but the decision was ultimately one for the UK government.

FBI Executes Search Warrants in New York, Calif. in Hunt for 'Anonymous' Hackers
Excerpt: Tuesday's search warrants are part of an ongoing investigation into Anonymous, which has claimed responsibility for attacks against a variety of websites including Visa and Mastercard. The Anonymous group is a loose collection of cybersavvy activists inspired by WikiLeaks and its flamboyant head Julian Assange to fight for "Internet freedom" -- along the way defacing websites, shutting down servers, and scrawling messages across screens web-wide. The Anonymous vigilante group recently turned its efforts to the Arizona police department, posting personal information of law officers and hacking and defacing websites in response, the group claims, to the state's controversial SB1070 immigration law. While Anonymous is largely a politically motivated organization, splinter group LulzSec -- which dominated headlines in the spring for a similar streak of cyberattacks -- was largely in it for the thrills.

Dignity al-Karama, Gaza-Bound French Ship, Seized By Israeli Navy
Excerpt:  Israeli naval commandos on Tuesday seized control of a French ship attempting to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, reporting no resistance during the takeover in international waters. The navy boarded the ship after the pro-Palestinian activists on board ignored calls to change course. (The Israelis are too humane. This problem would quickly vanish if they arrested all on board and scuttled the ship or seized it as contraband. Like hanging pirates, it won’t happen, but it ought to. Ron P.)

What Democrats Must Ignore or Deny
Excerpt: To be a Democrat means to live in denial. Consider all of the things you must ignore or explain away. The PIGS. Not the chauvinist pigs whose transgressions preoccupied 1970s feminists, but PIGS as in Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain -- nations facing sovereign debt crises because they pursued exactly the sort of policies Democrats favor for this country. (…) At the other end of the economic spectrum, Democrats must ignore Chile's remarkable success with privatizing social security. Thirty years ago, facing a pension overhang similar to our own, Chile adopted a policy that nearly all Democrats regard with horror -- they privatized their pension system. Not all at once. Those who were already retired were grandfathered into the existing system. New workers were required to participate in the private retirement account program. All other workers were offered a choice to remain with the old system or choose the new one. Ninety-three percent chose private accounts, conservatively managed.

Cries for Help from Iranian Web Activists Go Unheeded
Excerpt: The best way to help Iranian activists is to provide technical help to get around the government’s Internet filtering. Despite several requests for access to Anonymizer software, the U.S. government has not done so. Yet this leaves the activists helpless and severely weakens the democratic opposition. Why is the value of social media so underestimated in regard to Iran when the same facilities are interpreted as having been so hugely important in challenging regimes in the Arabic-speaking world? (The first reason is that Iranians don’t vote HERE. The other reason is that the Iranian regime will soon have nukes and no one wants to offend them. So instead, we do nothing and wait for the situation to get worse. It will. Ron P.)

The U.S.-Saudi Dilemma: Iran's Reshaping of Persian Gulf Politics
Turkey is becoming increasingly Islamist—which will make them increasingly poor, backward and dangerous to civilized countries. Not sure they can grow into anything. ~Bob. Excerpt: Something extraordinary, albeit not unexpected, is happening in the Persian Gulf region. The United States, lacking a coherent strategy to deal with Iran and too distracted to develop one, is struggling to navigate Iraq’s fractious political landscape in search of a deal that would allow Washington to keep a meaningful military presence in the country beyond the end-of-2011 deadline stipulated by the current Status of Forces Agreement. At the same time, Saudi Arabia, dubious of U.S. capabilities and intentions toward Iran, appears to be inching reluctantly toward an accommodation with its Persian adversary. Iran clearly stands to gain from this dynamic in the short term as it seeks to reshape the balance of power in the world’s most active energy arteries. But Iranian power is neither deep nor absolute. Instead, Tehran finds itself racing against a timetable that hinges not only on the U.S. ability to shift its attention from its ongoing wars in the Middle East but also on Turkey’s ability to grow into its historic regional role.

Israel's only two options
Excerpt: Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is in Europe this week seeking to convince the Spanish and Norwegian governments to support the Palestinian bid to sidestep negotiations with Israel and have the UN General Assembly recognize Palestinian sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem in addition to Gaza. The Palestinians know that without US support, their initiative will fail to gain Security Council support and therefore have no legal weight. But they believe that if they push hard enough, Israel's control over these areas will eventually unravel and they will gain control over them without ever accepting Israel's right to exist. Fatah's UN gambit, along with its unity deal with Hamas, makes clear that the time has come for Israel to finally face the facts: There are only two realistic options for dealing with Judea and Samaria. Either the Palestinians will take control of Judea and Samaria, or Israel will annex them.

America’s Permanent Greece Vacation
Excerpt: “We stand by the people and the government of Greece as you put your country back on a path to economic stability and prosperity,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Sunday in Athens. “We have a lot riding on our relationship together.” Like Charlie Sheen winning a vote of confidence from Lindsay Lohan, the encouraging words of one spending addict for another undermined rather than inspired confidence. The United States, like Greece, has damaged its credibility in the process of jeopardizing its credit. Spending vaults of other people’s money will have that effect on a nation. Following a week in which Fitch became the third major credit agency to bestow a “C” rating upon Greece, and Standard and Poor’s estimated a greater than fifty percent chance that the United States would lose its “AAA” rating in the next three months, the secretary of state’s trip to Athens was a case of bad timing. Clinton’s appearance in Athens did more to highlight the U.S.’s debt crisis than it did to help Greece get through theirs.

Our Complicity in Female Genital Mutilation
Tough on the five-year-old girls having their genitals carved up with razor blades while they are held screaming on a kitchen table, but better thousands undergo that ordeal than one leftist feminist face the non-PC charge of being Islamophobic. ~Bob. Excerpt: Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ines Laufer, founder of the TaskForce FGM in Germany that is lobbying for the safe protection of immigrant girls. In recent years, the organization has been initiating several court-proceedings to prevent girls from being taken to their countries of origin where they would face the risk of mutilation. Since April 2010, the TaskForce has been running Germany’s unique emergency-hotline, SOS FGM, which provides immediate help if girls are at risk and also offers access to medical, psychological and legal help. With big success, the TaskForce launched the charity-campaign VISION ACTION CHANGE in November 2010 to unite musicians, artists and designers to take a stand against FGM.

US drones target white jihadis
I support affirmative action killing of terrorists! ~Bob. Excerpt: The July 5 killing of yet another white jihadi commander in an American drone strike in the North Waziristan tribal agency of Pakistan - an Australian national this time - has given credence to earlier reports by Western intelligence agencies that the Pakistan-based al-Qaeda network is recruiting Western Muslim converts to widen the pool of potential terrorists beyond traditional Asian and Middle Eastern radicals who could foil racial profiling and carry out terrorist attacks in the West. According to Pakistani media reports, the white jihadi killed by two missiles fired by a drone at around 11 pm on July 5 in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan has been identified as Saifullah, who used to serve as a key aide to Osama bin Laden and had been working in tandem with al-Qaeda's chief military strategist, commander Ilyas Kashmiri, who has been reported as killed in a drone attack on June 3.

"They are enemies of the religion of God. They are apostates": Pakistani Taliban line up and execute security forces
Excerpt: The Taliban's video of the soldiers' execution by gunfire at close range can be found at Liveleak. Obviously, it is graphic and profoundly disturbing -- watch at your own risk. The reasons given for the execution are telling: the Taliban accuse the troops of killing children, and for good measure, they also declare them apostates from Islam. The penalty for apostasy from Islam is death, according to Muhammad's own orders. If the murder rap was flimsy, the accusations of apostasy offered another excuse to kill them.(Here’s the video. Once again, Muslims are the main victims of Allahmurders.

Rick Perry’s ace in the hole: Rudy Giuliani
Excerpt: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to mull the possibility of a 2012 presidential bid, but his true power in the race may come if he decides against running and instead throws his support to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The two men are good friends, and Perry was the only Republican governor in the country to endorse Giuliani’s presidential campaign in 2008. Payback could benefit Perry on a number of fronts – most notably fundraising – and would likely strengthen his status as a top-tier candidate if he decides to run. “Rudy would be an awesome asset to any campaign,” said Perry’s longtime political svengali Dave Carney. “Of course candidates matter to voters, but folks of the mayor’s stature bring lot of value added to any effort.”

Don’t shoot Taliban…you’ll wake locals: Marine’s diary reveals bizarre order to Brit troops
Excerpt: SOLDIERS were banned from shooting Taliban fighters planting mines - to avoid waking Afghan locals, a former Royal Marine has revealed. Craig Smith, 36, said US military chiefs routinely frustrated frontline forces by ordering them to exercise "courageous restraint". Troops were even told they could be charged with MURDER if they shot anyone without permission from command.

Must Read: 5 American Economic Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind
This is why I think it will be very difficult to avoid a collapse. ~Bob. Excerpt: That's why so many people look at you like a cat peering at a calculus book when you try to explain the scope of issues we're facing. Unfortunately, once people get to that point, their brains usually turn off and they tend to conclude things aren't really so bad because they don’t see members of Congress running around in circles, wetting themselves in terror on television. This is a mistake because most members of Congress are wealthy, influential, and assume that even if the rest of us are sleeping in cardboard boxes and eating cat food, they'll be dining on steak in some plush, gated villa. Sadly, they’re probably right about that. With all that in mind, since there's unlikely to be a "Members Of Congress And The President Have To Live Like The Rest Of Us If We Go Bankrupt" bill that's passed in the near future, it seems prudent to offer up some statistics that may, if you're open to it, cause you to look at America's economic situation in a new way -- sort of like a goose that realizes it's about to be chopped open by a greedy farmer for its golden egg and flies off to find a nice swallow in Capistrano instead. … Remember the Judgment Day style theatrics that surrounded the threat of a government shutdown back in April? That sliced $350 million from this year's budget. That's about as much as we borrow in two hours. Now, they're at it again in Congress, but this time they're talking about cutting $2 billion from this year's budget. We'll cover that in 11 hours time. Not that the "future budget cuts" aren't appreciated, if they ever come, but the extraordinary amounts we're borrowing and the miniscule amounts we're able to cut in the here and now don't suggest we're even remotely serious about dealing with this issue yet.

Ten Ways Progressive Policies Harm Society's Moral Character
Excerpt: While liberals are certain about the moral superiority of liberal policies, the truth is that those policies actually diminish a society's moral character. Many individual liberals are fine people, but the policies they advocate tend to make a people worse. Here are 10 reasons: 1. The bigger the government, the less the citizens do for one another. If the state will take care of me and my neighbors, why should I? This is why Western Europeans, people who have lived in welfare states far longer than Americans have, give less to charity and volunteer less time to others than do Americans of the same socioeconomic status. The greatest description of American civilization was written in the early 19th century by the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville. One of the differences distinguishing Americans from Europeans that he most marveled at was how much Americans -- through myriad associations -- took care of one another. … If you want to feel good, liberalism is awesome. If you want to do good, it is largely awful.

Desperately Fleeing Free Healthcare
Excerpt: This week an Iberia Airliner left Havana, landed in Madrid and found an obviously desperate Cuban stowaway. The 23 year old Cuban man named Adonis G.B. was curled in the landing gear, crushed to death. He joins an estimate of 50-70,000 Cubans dying (literally) to leave Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s handiwork. Almost two million Cubans have made it out alive. On Christmas Eve, 2000, a British Airliner opened its landing gear near Heathrow airport after taking off from Havana and out dropped two corpses, frozen solid. They were shortly identified as 16 year old Miguel Fonseca and 17 year old Alberto Vázquez. “Crazy blokes!” probably huffed some of the passengers, oblivious or uncaring that all those pounds they’d just spent on their Cuban vacation went straight into the coffers of the Stalinist military and police who drove the Cuban boys to such deadly desperation. Also oblivious or uncaring that prior to the reign of that Stalinist regime they succor with tourist money, people were almost as desperate to enter Cuba as they are now to escape.

Time for some pain in the debt talks
Excerpt: Well folks, if you didn’t think it was crunch time for lawmakers in Washington, it’s clear now. Talk is cheap. That’s not me saying it. That’s the world’s three credit agencies, Moody’s, Finch and now Standard & Poor’s, which all have threatened that the U.S. risks losing its top-notch credit rating if it cannot fix the debt mess. Some Democrats would see this month’s announcements as proof positive that Republicans are playing with fire here and they should abandon their childish antics to force President Obama to deep spending cuts. What nonsense. If the Republicans were to allow the limit on the debt ceiling to be raised, it would give the country what, a two-year reprieve? We need long-term reform and austerity, not short-term political fixes that get us through the next election. That’s how we get in trouble every few years.

Trumping the Race Card
Excerpt: What does racial prejudice have to do with the debt ceiling debate? For the average person the answer to this question isn’t obvious. But according to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, it is the most salient factor that’s shaping the debate. Last Friday the congresswoman delivered a stunning speech on the House floor where she spuriously implied that Republican opposition to raising the debt limit stemmed from their virulent racism. Of course to accept Congresswoman Jackson Lee’s argument, one would have to ignore the two inconvenient elephants in the room – Congressmen Allen West and Tim Scott. Both have ardently opposed the Obama administration’s policies since arriving in Congress this January and now are fighting back forcefully against the liberals’ unserious position on solving the nation’s fiscal problems. If the president’s race is the focal point for Republicans, why are West and Scott siding with the supposed racists? The details of President Obama’s brief legislative record are also problematic for Jackson Lee. Again, working under the assumption that the racial component of the debt ceiling debate is valid, what are we to make of President Obama’s vote against raising the debt limit in 2006 while George W. Bush was in office?

Excerpt: A former staff member of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) has filed a discrimination lawsuit against her. The suit, brought by Jackson Lee’s former legislative director Mona Floyd, alleges the lawmaker deliberately ignored her staffer’s vision and reading disability by forcing her to work long and extended hours with no breaks. At two separate points, Jackson Lee allegedly told Floyd, “I don’t care anything about your disability,” and later when asked about making adjustments to accommodate her disability the lawmaker allegedly told her chief of staff, “I don’t give a damn about her disability,” according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for D.C. (It is black public officials like her, Charlie Rangel, William Jefferson and Maxine Waters who create racism by their actions. Not to mention Jesse Jackson blackmailing Bud to give his son a distributorship. ~Bob.)

Latest al-Qaida Magazine Touts Gains and Losses
Excerpt: Victories on the battlefield and fresh martyrs underline al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's [AQAP] territorial gains, according to the latest issue of its English-language Inspire magazine. Its cover story is called "Sadness, Contentment, and Aspiration." "They obliterated the apostate army, took millions of dollars from them, and were able to obtain enormous heaps of ghanimah [booty]," AQAP said about its soldiers. The magazine also states that the group has seized "everything from tanks, hummers, anti-aircraft weaponry, armored vehicles, and all sorts of heavy and light weapons." A picture later in the magazine, showing al-Qaida forces taking possession of an armored vehicle, seems to confirm at least a small part of the group's claim.

ATF Chief Admits Mistakes in 'Fast and Furious,' Accuses Holder Aides of Stonewalling Congress
Excerpt: The head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has admitted that his agency, in at least one instance, allowed sales of high-powered weapons without intercepting them -- and he accuses his superiors at the Justice Department of stonewalling Congress to protect political appointees in the scandal over those decisions. Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson made the disclosures about the so-called Operation Fast and Furious in an interview with congressional investigators looking into the controversial anti-gunrunning initiative. The operation was designed to track small-time gun buyers up to major weapons traffickers along the U.S. border with Mexico. Critics estimate that 1,800 guns targeted in the operation are unaccounted for, and about two-thirds of those probably are in Mexico. Melson's acknowledgement is the first by any senior ATF leader that confirms some of the criticism that Republicans on Capitol Hill have been leveling at Fast and Furious. The objections have resulted in congressional hearings and an inquiry by the Justice Department's inspector general. (Where’s a special prosecutor NOT attached to the DOJ when you need one? How can their own inspector general be nonpartisan? Barb.)

Poverty study highlights key issue in debt ceiling clash
Excerpt: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was right last week when he wrote in USA Today that "the debt ceiling debate in Washington is a struggle over the kind of government we want. If you want a government that runs everything from the student loan business to car companies, then taxes will have to go up. If you think government is too big already and should start to pull back, then Washington has to change its ways -- fast." As if to punctuate McConnell's remarks, President Obama made it clear through senior aides Monday that he will veto the "cut, cap and balance" proposal favored by congressional Republicans. Since CCB includes actual spending cuts, caps future federal spending at pre-TARP levels, and requires, via a constitutional amendment, that the federal budget be balanced, Obama has officially put himself on the record against all three. What Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress seek, as McConnell so aptly put it, is government with its hand in everything. Further accentuating this issue was a new study released Monday by the Heritage Foundation. The conservative think tank's Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield examined U.S. Census Bureau and other federal government data and found the following facts about the typical poor American family: The family lives in a home that is in good repair, not crowded and equipped with air conditioning, clothes washer and dryer, and cable or satellite TV service. (In 10-20 years, I fear a lot of people who never thought they would be poor will be living a lot worse than this. ~Bob.)

Worth reading: Public schools in worse shape than we feared by Walter Williams
Excerpt: Last December, I reported on Harvard University professor Stephan Thernstrom's essay, "Minorities in College -- Good News, But...," on Minding the Campus, a website sponsored by the New York-based Manhattan Institute. Thernstrom was commenting on the results of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), saying that the scores "mean that black students aged 17 do not read with any greater facility than whites who are four years younger and still in junior high. ... Exactly the same glaring gaps appear in NAEP's tests of basic mathematics skills." Thernstrom asked, "If we put a randomly-selected group of 100 eighth-graders and another of 100 twelfth-graders in a typical college, would we expect the first group to perform as well as the second?" In other words, is it reasonable to expect a college freshman of any race who has the equivalent of an eighth-grade education to compete successfully with those having a 12th-grade education? Maybe this huge gap in black/white academic achievement was in the paternalistic minds of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals justices who recently struck down Michigan's ban on the use of race and sex as criteria for college admissions. … Eighty-two teachers have confessed to erasing students' answers. A total of 178 educators, including 38 principals, many of whom are black, systematically fabricated test scores of struggling black students to cover up academic failure. The governor's report says that cheating orders came from the top and that widespread cheating has occurred since at least 2001. So far, no Atlanta educator has been criminally charged, even though some of the cheating was brazen, such as teachers pointing to correct answers while students were taking the tests, reading answers aloud during testing and seating low-achieving students next to high-achieving students to make cheating easier. (By the next generation, the teachers won’t know the right answers to point to. ~Bob.)

Why do Americans oppose raising the debt limit?
Excerpt: Gallup has just posted more than 700 open-ended responses from the Americans that they polled who oppose raising the debt limit. These are not canned or prompted responses. They are the real views of average Americans in their own words. The question Gallup asked was: “What are some of the reasons why you would want your member of Congress to vote against raising the debt ceiling?” Here are some answer highlights:

CBO Says Obama Debt Reduction Proposal Would ADD Debt!
Excerpt: While the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has voted this year to approve House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R.-Wis.) proposal–that would put the government on a gradual path to a surplus by 2040–and plans to vote on a balanced budget amendment next week that would cap federal spending at 18 percent of GDP, the only budget proposal President Obama’s has publicly revealed in 2011 would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, increase the deficit by $26 billion this year, $83 billion next year, and $2.7 trillion over the next decade.

Poll: Sen. Scott Brown’s popularity soars
excerpt: Would-be challengers take note: New polling data out this morning shows U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is more popular today than when he was elected. Brown’s favorability rating now stands at 62 percent — 6 points higher than when he was elected in January of 2010, according to a poll released by Public Opinion Strategies. The poll was commissioned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Poll points include: • Two-thirds of Bay State voters approve of the job he’s doing. (67-27 percent job approval.) • 56 percent of “likely voters” polled said Brown deserves to be re-elected. (32 percent responded it was “time for a change.”) • Brown leads Elizabeth Warren 53-28 percent. (18 percent remain undecided.) Warren has yet to announce if she’ll run.

Militants Ship Bomb Materials in NATO Trucks
Excerpt: While coalition forces in Afghanistan wage a battle against improvised explosive devices, a investigation has revealed Pakistani officials are turning a blind eye toward smugglers who deal in the main ingredient used to make the deadly weapons. More disturbing is that along with Taliban smugglers using secret routes much of the supply has been carried across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in trucks contracted by NATO, which allows them to cross between the two countries unhindered. Improvised explosive devices have accounted for 66 percent of the overall casualties in Afghanistan since the war started in 2001. The makeshift bombs have claimed 368 troops in 2010; this year the tally has already reached 143.

Sailor Receives Silver Star After Aiding Marines
Excerpt: After providing medical treatment for two Marines who were shot during a firefight in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2010, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jacob Emmott, a corpsman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, was shot in the head. Miraculously, Emmott survived the injury and was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions. The award is presented for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States and is the third highest award for valor in the United States armed forces.

Worth Reading: Washington's New Normal Is Like A Fiscal Fairyland by Mark Steyn
Excerpt: There is something surreal and unnerving about the "debt ceiling" negotiations staggering on in Washington. In the real world, negotiations on an increase in one's debt limit are conducted between borrower and lender. Only in Washington is a debt increase negotiated between two groups of borrowers. Actually, it's more accurate to call them two groups of spenders. On the one side are Obama and the Democrats, who in a negotiation supposedly intended to reduce American indebtedness are (surprise!) proposing massive increases in spending. The Democrat position is: You guys always complain that we spend spend spend like there's no tomorrow, so be grateful that we're now proposing to spend spend spend spend like there's no this evening. On the other side are the Republicans, who are the closest anybody gets to representing, albeit somewhat tentatively and less than full-throatedly, the actual borrowers — that's to say, you and your children and grandchildren. But in essence the spenders are negotiating among themselves how much debt they're going to burden you with. It's like you announcing you've set your new credit limit at $1.3 million, and then telling the bank to send demands for repayment to the kindergartner next door. … Indeed, to listen to Obama, one might easily conclude that the whole rotten stinking edifice of federal government is an accounting trick. And that can't possibly be so, can it?

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