Sunday, July 3, 2011

Political Digest For July 4, 2011

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

Best older posts for new blog readers

Independence Day
The founding fathers voted for independence on July 2, 1776. Here’s what John Adams had to say about that event: "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore." Of course our observations are now made on the 4th, but the rest of his prediction was perfect, I’m proud to say. -- Geoff

All Four Stanzas
Excerpt: Unless you're already well acquainted with our "national anthem," this interesting piece by the late Isaac Asimov will be an eye-opener. It was for me. It's especially appropriate at a time when there is much talk of tossing out this difficult-to-sing and difficult-to-comprehend old song in favor of something that better suits Ray Charles' voice. You'll understand the song much better after you read Mr. Asimov's explanation. (A few years ago, someone sent this to me since they knew I liked Asimov’s writing. I knew there were four verses because we learned them in school, but I could only remember the first and snatches of the second and fourth. I have lost the original email, but Google can find almost anything. Enjoy, and happy birthday, American. Ron P.)

1 in 4 Americans Don't Know Who We Fought for Independence
Willfully, blissfully ignorant about their country. One hopes they bother to vote only for American Idol. ~Bob. Excerpt: As grills across America fire up this weekend some Americans may want to crack open a history book instead of a cold beer. A Marist poll finds that 26 percent of Americans don’t know whom the United States declared its independence from. The 26 percent includes 6 percent that are unsure that the United States fought any war of independence at all. Other respondents gave a range of countries that included France, China, Mexico, Spain and Japan, according to the pollsters at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. For the record, it was Great Britain we broke away from.

Jewish University Presidents Who Abandon Jews
Excerpt: Since we live in a craven age, let's salute our few heroes. Meet Jessica Felber, a 21-year-old Lioness of Judah, who's suing the University of California for failing to protect her civil rights. Felber is a student activist at Berkeley who simply asserts her right to stand on campus and hold a sign saying, "Israel Wants Peace," without subsequently needing urgent medical attention. What Jew can count on that right on a UC campus these days? In March 2010, Felber was violently assaulted by Husam Zakharia, the leader of Students for Justice in Palestine, as she peacefully held her sign at a pro-Israel event. UC authorities "were fully aware that Zakharia, the SJP and similar student groups had been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students," says her renowned lawyer, Neal Sher. Nevertheless, "[d]efendants took no reasonable steps to protect Ms. Felber and others."

Muslim Brotherhood fact Sheet

The Community Organizer Who Would be King
Excerpt: I think we've reached a similar turning point in this presidency where (a) Obama's (and Michelle's) delusions of grandeur have become objects of ridicule; b) Obama's feet of clay are obvious. He may be the only person left in Washington who has not yet realized how inadequate he is to the tasks before him; (c) the people and the press are beginning to turn on him, and as his failures become even more obvious with each passing day, more people will feel free to attack him and his policies and their attacks will become ever more savage as the gap between the promise and reality grow ever more stark. Obama entered office on a groundswell of a disconcerting mania, a mania in which voters imagined on this blank slate of a candidate all sorts of truly fantastic abilities and policies, none of which were warranted in his paltry, truly shabby history.

Message to US agents: 'We'll chop your heads off' - CBS News
Excerpt: A spray-painted sign threatening death for U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents was found Friday next to a school in a northern Mexico state capital, officials said. Addressed with profanity to "Gringos (D.E.A.)," the unsigned graffiti warned: "We know where you are and we know who you are and where you go. We are going to chop off your (expletive) heads."

Bribe scandal extends to Vietnamese spy colonel
Excerpt: AUSTRALIAN trade officials met or spoke with a colonel from a Vietnamese spy agency 18 times before suggesting to a Reserve Bank currency firm that it hire him as an agent in an arrangement that is now expected to lead to more corruption charges as part of the nation's biggest bribery probe. The Age can also reveal that the federal police investigated an Austrade commissioner, who is still serving in Asia, after uncovering information about Austrade's role in assisting banknote firm Securency International provide overseas travel for Vietnamese officials.

Greece arrests Gaza-bound boat captain
Excerpt: Greece's coast guard said the captain of the "Audacity of Hope" faces charges of trying to leave port without permission and of endangering the lives of the boat's passengers. The latter charge is a felony.

Iran Delivers Threatening Letter to President Obama
Excerpt: The Arab-language newspaper Al-Ahram reports that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recently sent a letter filled with threats to American officials. The letter, which is said to have been delivered by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, accuses the U.S. of meddling in Syrian affairs. According to Al-Ahram, Khamenei has ordered the U.S. to cease and desist pressuring the Syrian regime leadership, cautioning that Iran will retaliate against American troops stationed in Iraq should Obama refuse to take the warning seriously. (…) Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is a media branch of Hezbollah , quoted several of its Tehran-based sources as saying that the Iranian leadership also warned Turkey against taking any military action against Syria. The report adds that any militaristic meddling in Syria by the Turks would be considered “crossing a red line” and will not be tolerated by the Iranian regime. (It’s difficult to tell how seriously to take this author, and that’s a problem. Most of what he has said in the past has either proven true or is unverifiable. He paints a grim picture of an Iran looking to flex its muscles. Israel and the West are the most obvious targets for them. Ron P.)

Lacklustre results from the Colorado Integrated Solar Project
Excerpt: So what was the actual result? The system starts up once the Direct Normal Insolation (DNI) reaches 200 W/m2 and can keep operating for a while at DNI below this value (p6). The maximum temperature achieved is ~300C. The results of the integration were positive (p7), with minimal impact on the coal plant operation. The total coal savings for the project were 238 tonnes of coal fuel (p10), or a total emissions saving of 528 tonnes of CO2-e, for a facility that cost $4.5 million. Here are the details of the actual performance data (tables omitted ~RGP)...  So, the expected coal savings, converting to tonnes, was 11,017 t of coal and 2,442 t of CO2-e. That is, the actual performance was 2.2% of the predicted performance in terms of fuel savings, and 22% of expected in terms of CO2-e reduction. (Although this site (BNC) is run by warmists, they are (unusually) also firm supporters of nuclear energy, and thus publish odd data other warmist sites would ignore or bury. I’m reminded of the old joke about a retailer buying merchandise for a premium over wholesale and selling it for less than wholesale; when asked how he expected to make a profit, he said: “I hope to make it up in volume.” Take a look at the tables when reading the article. Ron P.)

Last Vietnam-era draftee is retiring from Army
Excerpt: A homemade wind chime with the word "Whining" under a red slash is made from metal parts put in his leg after a parachute accident. Every Sunday he trims his crew cut. He didn't join the Army willingly, but as Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mellinger prepares to retire, he's grateful he found his calling. Mellinger was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, and the Army believes he's the last draftee to retire, after 39 years. Most did their two years and left. But Mellinger had found home.

Excerpt: Ten percent of Americans do it, retailers pretend it doesn’t exist and companies spend billions to stop it. And because of the retail world’s dirty little secret — shoplifting — the average American spends $423 more a year on crime-taxed products. Last year alone, the retail industry lost $37.14 billion due to shrinkage (inventory loss), up from $33.5 billion in 2008, according to the 2010 National Retail Federation’s security survey. That amounts to about $101 million lost a day, or $4.2 million per hour. Shrinkage accounted for 1.56% of retail sales — most businesses can’t turn a profit with a shrinkage rate higher than 2%. Still, shoplifting is still largely trivialized, viewed as a harmless, non-violent, victimless crime. Thefts go under-reported, often downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor, and under-arrested. Most retailers remain mum about it, fearing for their reputations and bottom lines, says Rachel Shteir, author of “The Steal,” a new book about the history of shoplifting. (My father used to say: "If you did not earn it, don't take it" --DH)

Why Some People Want to Stick it to the Rich
Excerpt: The rich often get a bum rap. Liberals are incensed when it is suggested that “the rich” get any type of tax reduction even though the top 50% of wage earners pay 96% of all income taxes. Since they spend more money, the rich also pay a disproportionate amount in sales, property, entertainment, and excise taxes. Without the rich, most people would not have jobs.

Laws are for the little people, not President Obama
Excerpt: An ad to raise campaign funds has now made it official: Whatever rule applies to 300 million Americans does not and will never apply to the once-in-a-millennia exception to any rule that applies to all living entities: Barack Obama. Based on his behavior, it's apparent the president views himself as a man so lofty in vision and skill that he's exempt from the decrees imposed on the little people. Could it be that Obama perceives legalistic edicts as necessary tools to herd lowlifes? If that were not the case, why would he be mentalizing which pair of golf shoes and what cologne to include in his ditty bag for a weekend at Camp David while chiding Congress for daring to take a break in the midst of a budget crisis? As witnessed in all he does, Obama's attitude of exempting some while imposing on others doesn't only apply to healthcare reform waivers or Fourth of July weekend getaways. When it comes to excusing himself, Barack Obama doesn't let little things like silly legalities affect his decisions to do whatever he damned well pleases. Following the example of America's "Let's Move" creator/healthy-eating first lady who "tucked" into fried fat cakes in Botswana, Obama is relaxed when it comes to personal restrictions.

Gadhafi Threatens Attacks in Europe If NATO Continues Air Campaign
Excerpt: A defiant Moammar Gadhafi threatened Friday to carry out attacks in Europe against "homes, offices, families," unless NATO halts its campaign of airstrikes against his regime in Libya. The Libyan leader, sought by the International Criminal Court for a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters, delivered the warning in a telephone message played to thousands of supporters gathered in the main square of the capital Tripoli.

Justice Department and Obama reverse stance on medical marijuana raids
Excerpt: The Justice Department and the Obama administration appear to have backtracked on early promises to respect state medical marijuana laws, opening the door for more federal raids on medical marijuana growers and dispensaries. In a memo sent June 29 to U.S. attorneys, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said cultivators and sellers of medical marijuana were in clear violation of the Controlled Substances Act and open for prosecution. That’s a marked departure from the Obama administration’s early rhetoric, which was that those in compliance with state medical marijuana laws wouldn’t be a priority for federal law enforcement. (There actually is a purpose to this apparent flip-flop. Notice that 26 sites in 13 cities of Montana were raided in March, and "some" in Los Angeles and Seattle. Does anyone want to bet on the percentage of those raids that occurred in Republican-leaning Montana? I'd bet on 60% or more. Selective law enforcement to reward supporters and punish opponents is a basic gangster tactic, just part of the "
Chicago Way
." Either get used to it or get busy at the ballot box in the next election. Ron P.)

The Purposeful Flooding of America's Heartland
Excerpt: The Missouri River basin encompasses a vast region in the central and west-central portion of our country. This river, our nation's longest, collects the melt from Rocky Mountain snowpack and the runoff from our continents' upper plains before joining the Mississippi river above St. Louis some 2,300 miles later. It is a mighty river, and dangerous.

The UN's Climate of Desperation
Excerpt: As the UN wrapped up its recent climate conference in Bonn, Germany, talks organizer Christiana Figueres proclaimed that climate change is the “the most important negotiation the world has ever faced.” Faced with real problems – financial meltdowns, unemployment, war and genuine human suffering – the world no longer agrees. It’s a good thing human productivity doesn’t threaten the global thermostat the way the UN would have us believe. If it were, we’d be cooked. Countries rich and poor are backing away from commitments they made years ago during rosier economic times, before the public became aware of Climategate, renewable energy costs and genuine debate. (…) While it is encouraging that the global warming camp no longer has things entirely its own way, celebration would be premature. For all the gnashing of teeth and complaining about corporate influence we hear from global warming bureaucrats and campaigners, the truth is that today the warmists are the establishment.

Agenda 21: Conspiracy Theory or Real Threat?
Excerpt: Agenda 21 ostensibly seeks to promote "sustainability" (the latest revisionist word for "environmentalism," since Americans have learned too many negative things about environmentalism). "Sustainability" is an amorphous concept that can be interpreted to an extreme degree that would regulate and restrict many parts of our lives. When will the level of carbon emissions be low enough? How much must we reduce our consumption of fossil fuels? Preserving the environment is a dubious science, and what steps are really necessary to protect the environment are anyone's guess. Agenda 21 promotes European socialist goals that will erode our freedoms and liberties. Most of its vague, lofty sounding phrases cause the average person’s eyes to glaze over, making it easier to sneak into our communities. The environmentalist goals include atmospheric protection, combating pollution, protecting fragile environments, and conserving biological diversity. Agenda 21 goes well beyond environmentalism. Other broad goals include combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, promoting health, and reducing private property ownership, single-family homes, private car ownership, and privately owned farms. It seeks to cram people into small livable areas and institute population control. There is a plan for “social justice” that will redistribute wealth. (Perhaps I lead a sheltered life. I've never heard of this before, though there's nothing especially surprising about the goals. They're the same goals pursued by all "liberals:" to control all the rest of us. Ron P.)

The Summer of 1979 and the Rise of Reagan
Excerpt: The country was in a bad place in 1979, with the economy stagnant, inflation rising and interest rates soaring. “Stagflation” was the term birthed by the years of Jimmy Carter. Abroad Cuban soldiers spread out across Africa, our strongest ally in the oil-rich world of the Middle East, Iran, was in the throes of the bloody revolution that toppled the Shah and saw the rise of Khomeini. The Soviets were a vast and dangerous empire, in the midst of preparations for its late December invasion of Afghanistan. Even worse times were ahead, with the Iranian hostage crisis looming and Carter’s befuddlement growing by the day. (…) Leaders matter. National moods can change over night. Course shift and trajectories change. These are important things to recall in 2011.

The Philosophies of Illegal Immigration
Excerpt: The new, vastly changed racial realities thus raise a fundamental question that the proponents of either amnesty or open borders cannot or will not address. What, I wonder, exactly privileges illegal immigration from Mexico — in a way that might not be true, say, of allowing half-a-million aliens to enter the country illegally from China or Africa? Proximity? Race? History? Money? Politics? Power? Surely what drives Mexican consular officials to demand certain rights for Mexican national expatriates in a way that they would not for other nationals is not the abstract concept of illegal immigration, but only concern that illegal immigration remain mostly a phenomenon from Mexico — or at least by extension Latin America.

Man held in double homicide in Mesa
Excerpt: The man accused in the slaying of two men in Mesa told detectives that he had been plotting to kill one of the victims for two months and that he shot the other man, an Arizona State University student, because he could identify him, court documents state. A text message from the cellphone belonging to one of the victims led police Thursday to arrest Jesus Antonio Busso-Estopellan, 21, of Mesa, on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder. Police said he admitted setting up a meeting with victim Olek Wladyszewski in an east Mesa neighborhood. ... Court records show he was in the country illegally and was awaiting deportation.

When the “fall guy” won’t “fall”: Melson will testify before Senate “Fast and Furious” Committee
Excerpt: Barack Obama has spent a political lifetime profiting from underhanded deals made with one or another fellow incarnation of the devil. So in 2009, when Obama appointed Ken Melson to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, he once again did what arrogant, would-be dictators do…he made a criminally irresponsible deal with a fellow egotist and power hungry usurper. Melsom had spent 12 years as a director of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board, lecturing throughout the nation on the wisdom of giving his organization absolute authority over procedural, ethical and certification requirements governing forensic labs in the United States. So upon Melson’s appointment to the ATF, Obama created the White House Subcommittee on Forensic Science, designating Melson a co-chair with authority over staffing and agenda. Armed with the power and prestige of a supportive President, Melson could now dictate policy to forensics practitioners across the nation.

Bachmann Lived on Kibbutz, Staunchly Pro-Israel
Excerpt: For Rep. Michele Bachmann, staunch support for Israel is a personal matter: Teenage Bachmann spent a summer working on a kibbutz in Israel. The 55-year-old Minnesota Republican, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus and a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, went to Israel in 1974, immediately after graduating from high school. Her mission was sponsored by Young Life, a Christian ministry. “I always had this love and appreciation for Israel because I was a Christian,” Bachmann, who was raised as a Lutheran, said in an interview with Matthew Continetti, opinion editor of The Weekly Standard. “It’s the foundation of our faith. All of the Bible is about Israel.”

Excerpt: Perhaps in response to the Politico report earlier this week, it appears that some low-level Jewish players have decided to seal their place in the progressive movement rather than act for the best interests of both the United States and its valuable Mid-East ally, Israel. According to the WAPO's Greg Sargent, the Obama campaign is planning to send out surrogates to go on the offensive against pro-Israel groups critical of the president’s Israel policy.

Saudi Arabia's clerics challenge King Abdullah's reform agenda
Trying to bring Islam, kicking and screaming, into the early 20th century. ~Bob. Excerpt: His offence was to have criticised the king's decision to allow male and female researchers to work together at the new multibillion pound science university built on the Red Sea coast. The king had called the university, a key part of Saudi Arabia's drive towards economic modernisation, a "beacon of tolerance". Shethri retorted that "mixing [genders] is a great sin and a great evil ... When men mix with women, their hearts burn and they will be diverted from their main goal [of] education." Shethri remains unrepentant. In an interview with the Guardian, his first with a western newspaper, he says the duty of religious scholars is to advise sovereign rulers but also "to make governors fear God if they err from the right path and to remind them of God's punishment if they continue to err".

Pakistan college contest: Praise for Osama bin Laden
Didn't get the "Islam is a Religion of Peace" memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Two months after the covert U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, posters emblazoned with images of the burning World Trade Center towers appeared at the country's largest university advertising a literary contest to glorify the former Al Qaeda chief.
India: Muslim Sharia judge misunderstands Islam, forces minor girl into marriage
Excerpt: A qazi is a Sharia judge. Somehow this one got the crazy idea that because Muhammad, the excellent example of conduct (cf. Qur'an 33:21) consummated his marriage with Aisha when she was nine and he was fifty-four, that therefore child marriage must be just fine. If only our Western Islamic apologists had been there to explain it all to him!

Fast and Furious weapons turn up in Phoenix area crimes
Excerpt: As if no one could have seen this coming, Phoenix area law enforcement has turned up several “walked” firearms in their investigations of local crimes. Local ABC affiliate ABC15 is all over this and to their credit has worked hard to connect the dots, this by reporter Lori Jane Gliha.

Air Force Times: Obama is Lying
I'm shocked! ~Bob. Excerpt: Air Force and Navy aircraft are still flying hundreds of strike missions over Libya despite the Obama administration’s claim that American forces are playing only a limited support role in the NATO operation. An Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that since NATO’s Operation Unified Protector (OUP) took over from the American-led Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 31, the U.S. military has flown hundreds of strike sorties. Previously, Washington had claimed that it was mostly providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and tanker support to NATO forces operating over Libya. “U.S. aircraft continue to fly support [ISR and refueling] missions, as well as strike sorties under NATO tasking,” AFRICOM spokeswoman Nicole Dalrymple said in an emailed statement. “As of today, and since 31 March, the U.S. has flown a total of 3,475 sorties in support of OUP. Of those, 801 were strike sorties, 132 of which actually dropped ordnance.”
66 officers turn in badges in San Jose's first police layoffs
For those who tell me a collapse isn't coming, here are signs of a collapse gathering steam. ~Bob. Excerpt: Amid a homicide surge in what once was dubbed "America's Safest Big City," 66 young San Jose cops turned in their badges Thursday as a $115 million budget shortfall led to the city's first-ever police layoffs. The somber embraces of laid-off cops with fellow officers come as tensions simmer between cops and city leaders over pay and benefit cuts needed to save jobs as more deficits loom. While the toll was much less than had been feared weeks ago because dozens of the 122 who were given layoff notices found jobs in other police departments, the cuts will take a historic toll on San Jose's police force. In addition to the cops let go, the city cut nearly 100 police positions left vacant by recent retirements and departures, shrinking the force from 1,271 to 1,106 officers. That's fewer cops than the city had two decades ago, when San Jose had 200,000 fewer people."

Greece Bans Gaza Flotilla From Leaving Port
Excerpt: Greece on Friday banned ships heading to the Gaza Strip from leaving Greek ports, and a vessel carrying several dozen American protesters which left port without permission was ordered to return. A flotilla of nine Greek and foreign-flagged vessels and several hundred activists have said they want to break Israel’s sea blockade and deliver aid to the Palestinian territory. Greece’s Civil Protection Ministry said coast guard authorities had been ordered to take “all appropriate measures” to implement the ban. It also said the “broader maritime area of the eastern Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating” in the flotilla.

Excerpt: Could President Obama beat Rick Perry in Texas in a general-election showdown? According to a new poll by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, Obama would beat Perry 47 percent to 45 percent. That’s within the poll’s 3.5-point margin of error. But in that same poll, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul beat Obama by 8 and 5 points respectively, while Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty would also win the state (albeit within the margin of error) in the general election. Dave Carney, a top political adviser to Perry, dismisses the PPP poll, telling National Review Online in an e-mail, “PPP has a long track record in Texas of being wrong.”

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