Friday, July 8, 2011

Political Digest for July 8, 2011

Heavy Time Commitments
Over the next few days may limit the posts on the Political Digest. Sorry. ~Bob

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.

The Day After Disaster
Guest Post from Major General Geoff Higginbotham, USMC (ret.) discussing a TV program about the effects of a nuclear attack on the US. This is one possible event I describe in my book that would push us into a collapse. I appreciate the General’s willingness to share. Didn’t even make me do any pushup (a good thing considering my age and condition!). See the next, related post. ~Bob.

Pakistan’s nuclear-bomb maker says North Korea paid bribes for know-how
Excerpt: The founder of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program asserts that the government of North Korea bribed top military officials in Islamabad to obtain access to sensitive nuclear technology in the late 1990s. Abdul Qadeer Khan has made available documents that he says support his claim that he personally transferred more than $3 million in payments by North Korea to senior officers in the Pakistani military, which he says subsequently approved his sharing of technical know-how and equipment with North Korean scientists. Khan also has released what he says is a copy of a North Korean official’s 1998 letter to him, written in English, that spells out details of the clandestine deal. Some Western intelligence officials and other experts have said that they think the letter is authentic and that it offers confirmation of a transaction they have long suspected but could never prove. 

FACT CHECK: Short but not sweet; Obama’s Twitter facts off a bit
We don’t need Rep. Joe Wilson to say, “You Lie!” when the Washington Post takes up the cause—and not for the first time. ~Bob. Excerpt: The debt-ceiling deal that President Barack Obama hopes to negotiate with Republicans won’t solve the nation’s problem with red ink, as he stated in his first Twitter session with the public. And no, the payroll tax cut he got out of Congress isn’t putting an extra $1,000 into the pockets of “almost every single American.” Obama took a few shortcuts with the facts Wednesday when fielding questions from people on the social networking site. 

Live-blogging the President’s Twitter town hall (#askobama)
Excerpt: As predicted, this was an almost entirely news-less affair that allowed Obama to talk about what he has done and what he plans to do in office. He almost never went off his message script — pushing Republicans to compromise on tax increases for “millionaires and billionaires,” emphasizing the need for comprehensive energy and immigration reform and making sure people know that the economic stimulus money wasn’t wasted. As I mentioned earlier, Twitter did a good job of making it as interactive as possible, but the whole town hall would have benefited from more back-and-forth between the president and the moderator. We didn’t learn anything new today. But President Obama and Twitter got some very nice media exposure for what was largely an event devoid of news. (Surprise. Tax-funded PR stunt. ~Bob.)

President Obama and the importance of going big
Excerpt: President Obama told congressional leaders on Tuesday that the onrushing, rejecting the idea of a smaller-bore deal that would “kick the can down the road when it comes to solving the larger problem of our deficit.” Obama’s call to go big — literally — on the debt talks is in keeping with a broader political strategy that he has employed almost since his first day as a presidential candidate: the idea that his election heralded a fundamental break with the half-measure politics of the past. Being big when it comes to the problems facing the country is absolutely fundamental to the Obama brand — what do “hope” and “change” mean if not the ability to believe things can and will be fundamentally different and better? — and why he and his senior political team are making a calculated gamble that pushing for a grand bargain (or something close to it) on the debt is the best way to strengthen his political prospects heading into 2012. (I recall a politician who was riding high, decided to Go Big. He called it “Operation Barbarossa.” Didn’t work out quite as planned. ~Bob.)

Time for Obama to complete his 360° on gay marriage
Excerpt: Barack Obama was for legalizing gay marriage before he was undecided about it. Then he was undecided about gay marriage until, as a matter of political strategy, he opposed it. Then he opposed gay marriage as a matter of political strategy until he opposed it for religious reasons. Then he opposed gay marriage for religious reasons until he explained that it should be a states' rights issue. And now Obama is signaling that it's only a matter of time — a few more persuasive public opinion polls, perhaps — until he completes his 15-year cycle through the wilderness of cynicism, opportunism and cowardice, and once again declares his support for gay marriage. (So, like most of his firm positions, huh. ~Bob.)

Egyptian Party Leader Claims Holocaust Is ‘A Lie,’ 9/11 Was ‘Made In The U.S.A.
Excerpt: It’s hard to imagine people in the modern age claiming — with a straight face –that the Holocaust never occurred. Yet, this is exactly what Ahmed Ezz El-Arab, a vice chairman of Egypt’s Wafd Party, believes. In addition to dubbing this monumental historical occurrence “a lie,” in a recent interview with The Washington Times, the political leader claims that Anne Frank’s memoir is “a fake” and that the 9/11 attacks were “made in the U.S.A.” (Welcome to the democratic, freedom-loving Arab Spring. ~Bob.)

HOA Halts Construction of Paralyzed Army Vet's Home
Excerpt: Plans to build a new home for a paralyzed Army veteran at no cost to his family have been put on hold by the local homeowners association. The reason, said the president of the nonprofit homebuilding group, is fear that the home would drag down property values in the neighborhood. The Evans, Ga., home was to be built for Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens (left), who was struck in 2008 by an IED blast on his second tour of duty in Iraq. The trauma left him paralyzed on the right side of his body and unable to speak.

The Zero-Blame Game
Excerpt: During the George W. Bush years, everything bad that happened in America somehow was connected to the malignant reign of “The Decider.” Last year, CBS even sought out journalist Sally Quinn to claim that Bush’s victory in 2000 could be blamed for unraveling Al Gore’s marriage ten years later. God knows, and so too do most Americans, that the state of the union is a mess. But in the Obama era, nothing that goes wrong can be traced back to the Democrats in power. (Unfortunately, this is nothing new; they’ve been doing this for at least four decades, perhaps longer. Think back to the Saturday Night Live skit series in the summer of 1980 “satirizing” Ronald Ray-Gun, who would surely start wars, ruin the economy, and starve widows and orphans if he was elected. It’s also why the left is now very mistrustful of the free internet that they only want to control the “on and off ramps” of. They’ve had home-field advantage in the media so long they feel it belongs to them. This is the reason TOJ (and so many other conservative sites) exist—it can’t be the money we’re after since few of us get paid.  Ron P.)

Radical Islamist Group Tries to Branch Out
Excerpt: One of America's most radical homegrown Islamist groups has opened two new centers focused on the "Zionist American" threat, a thinly-veiled reference to the group's anti-Semitic and anti-American message. Under the leadership of extremist Abdul Alim Musa, the Sabiqun organization has tried to blur the line between attacking Jews and criticizing Israel, as well as striking out against America. "For 30 years, Masjid Al-Islam [Sabiqun's mosque] has been carrying on a direct, face-to-face struggle against the monolithic Zionist American regime," Abdul Alim Musa said in an "Urgent Appeal" to support the new "Islamic Institute of Counter Zionist American Psychological Warfare (IICZAPW)." "We are an anti-Zionist American psycho-guerrilla warfare movement, the appeal said. "We use all available tools found in our environment in exposing the anti-Islamic, anti-human policies of this Zionist American system."

In debt talks, Obama offers Social Security cuts
Excerpt: President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue. At a meeting with top House and Senate leaders set for Thursday morning, Obama plans to argue that a rare consensus has emerged about the size and scope of the nation’s budget problems and that policymakers should seize the moment to take dramatic action. As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending. (There is this upside to tax increases. They will likely screw up the economy so much that anyone could beat Obama. If you are unemployed, or your retirement savings lost in a market crash or eaten up through inflation, that may not be much consolation. ~Bob.)

Social Security Changes on the Table in Debt Talks
Notice the last line of the excerpt. Ron P. Excerpt: In the nitty-gritty of negotiations, Republicans have made clear to Obama if he wants to spare domestic "investments" funded through discretionary spending he need only embrace structural changes to Social Security or Medicare. Republicans contend altering current benefit schedules would extend solvency for Social Security and put bigger deficit-reduction numbers on the board, giving Obama more room for annual discretionary spending. And both sides are still fighting over how much to cut future defense spending within the context of annual discretionary spending. Democrats want deeper cuts than the GOP and the GOP wants to guard against any legislative bias in favor of defense cuts over non-defense discretionary savings. Like every other issue, much has been discussed and dissected -- but nothing has been agreed to.

In Debt Limit Debate, Higher Taxes Aren't the Answer
Excerpt: Republican congressional leaders will meet in the White House today with their Democratic counterparts and President Obama in an effort to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling. Reports are sketchy as to whether they will succumb to arm-twisting by the White House, amplified in the media, to cut a deal in which "everyone has to give a little"—or fill your preferred cliché. It is thus an appropriate time to remind everyone that Americans have already given all they can, especially to the IRS, and, no, it isn't time to raise taxes—on the contrary, it's time for politicians to curb their spending habits. But just in case dire warnings about defaulting on the debt don’t work and the Republican leadership holds its ground today, a small team of Treasury officials along with friends of the White House are carving out a Plan B ploy to borrow more money on its own authority. It is based, to be charitable to its originators, on a dangerously flawed reading of the 14th Amendment.

Worth reading: Obama plays kick the can
Excerpt: All eight congressional leaders attending Thursday’s White House meeting on the debt-ceiling negotiations know it’s time to stop behaving like schoolchildren and “do something big,” as The Grown-Up has declared. All of them know President Obama is skeptical of “some in Congress who want to do just enough to make sure that America avoids defaulting on our debt in the short term but then want to kick the can down the road when it comes to solving the larger problem of our deficit.” And they know that he doesn’t “share that view.” At least not now, anyway. With enough time squandered, and the pressure mounting, the stage is set for another theatrical “showdown” between President Obama and his GOP colleagues. As they stare down the deadline on default, both sides hope they can win the ultimate political chicken match, score with independent voters and maybe even do something to help the country. Obama hopes the swing voters he has lost since his election in 2008 simply haven’t noticed the months-long, can-kicking binge he just concluded in time to become a sacred-cow killer committed to bold deficit reduction, including entitlement reform.

McConnell: 'We look a lot like Greece already'
Excerpt: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Wednesday that the financial state of the U.S. is similar to bankrupt Greece. Making the case for major spending reductions a day before congressional leaders will meet with President Obama, McConnell said, "We look a lot like Greece already." During their weekly press briefing, other Senate Republican leaders lashed out at Obama, questioning his leadership on the debt-ceiling talks. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said, "We need a serious discussion and we're not getting it yet."

Past Recessions Offer Perspective on the Federal Government's Deficit and Debt Problems
Excerpt: The federal government's deficit usually rises during recessions, and the depth of the last recession contributed to the red ink. However, the rise in the deficit this time was extraordinary. Why did the federal deficit increase so much more during and after this recession than during and after previous recessions? A new paper from the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation (IRET) examines the 10 U.S. recessions since 1950. It concludes that an upsurge in federal spending is the primary reason for federal deficits of a magnitude not seen since World War II. The federal government was running a budget deficit prior to the recession that officially began in December 2007, but the red ink appeared tolerable relative to the size of the economy. The Office of Management and Budget reports that, as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the deficit was 1.9 percent in fiscal year 2006 and 1.2 percent in fiscal year 2007. Because real output was growing faster than the debt, federal debt held by the public was actually declining slightly compared to GDP, from 39.6 percent in 2005 to 36.5 percent in 2006 and 36.2 percent in 2007. Since then, the federal government deficit has exploded. Measured as a share of GDP, the deficit was 10 percent in fiscal year 2009, 8.9 percent in 2010, and an estimated 10.9 percent in 2011. From 2007 to 2011, federal government debt held by the public will have doubled, from 36.2 percent of GDP to an estimated 72 percent. The huge deficits of recent years, and the consequent mushrooming of debt, are not long sustainable. The debt crisis that has engulfed Greece illustrates the danger when a government incurs outsized deficits and debt without a credible plan for reducing them, says IRET.

Worth reading: How Effective Was The 2009 Stimulus Program?

Thankfully, I won’t have to pay for this. They borrowed the money from China, for my granddaughter to pay back. But she won’t. The fiscal collapse and default will come first. ~Bob. Excerpt: In an important and eye-opening new paper, Jeffrey Eisenach and Kevin Caves of Navigant Economics, a consulting firm, recently examined ARRA’s subsidization of rural broadband. The ARRA stimulus funds for broadband constitute “the largest Federal subsidies ever provided for broadband construction in the U.S.” An explicit goal of the program was to extend broadband access to homes currently without it. Eisenach and Caves looked at three areas that received stimulus funds, in the form of loans and direct grants, to expand broadband access in Southwestern Montana, Northwestern Kansas, and Northeastern Minnesota. The median household income in these areas is between $40,100 and $50,900. The median home prices are between $94,400 and $189,000. So how much did it cost per unserved household to get them broadband access? A whopping $349,234, or many multiples of household income, and significantly more than the cost of a home itself

Green, You're a Hog
Excerpt: It seems that whenever the smart guys in government implement policies to save us from ourselves and make the world a better place, we get stuck with the bill as well as a whole new set of problems that they created. As time passes, the body of evidence continues to mount that much of the radical left's claims were overstated, half-truths, and in some cases outright lies.  Just in the last few days, we came across the following four reports that show yet again that all the homage paid to the green gods has not resulted in the benefits promised, and often creates a whole new set of problems.

Reuters Ignores Projected August Debt Payments in 'Exclusive' About Preventing Default
Much of the media sees their mission as promoting the Left-Statist agenda, not objective reporting. Reuters is particularly bad, especially in their reporting on Islamic Terrorism. ~Bob. Excerpt: Reuters on Thursday issued what it called an "exclusive" report about the Treasury department "secretly" weighing options to avert a default if the debt ceiling isn't raised by August 2nd. In the piece, the authors shared with readers the amount of tax revenue Treasury projects it will collect in August as well as projected Social Security payments, but conspicuously ignored what the department expects to pay in interest costs on the federal debt: A small team of Treasury officials is discussing options to stave off default if Congress fails to raise the country's borrowing limit by an August 2 deadline, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. Senior officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, have repeatedly said there are no contingency plans if lawmakers do not give the U.S. government the authority to borrow more money. But behind the scenes, top Treasury officials have been exploring ways to prevent a financial meltdown that would be triggered if the government were unable to pay its bills on time, sources told Reuters. Sounds reasonable, right? Unfortunately, Reuters failed to accurately report what those contingencies could be:

Iran Approaching Fission? I’m Talking Politics, not Nukes…
Excerpt:  The mullahs have stepped up their tempo of killing, both at home and abroad. The main difference is that the Iranian citizens who are tortured and executed are slaughtered by fellow-Iranians. Our guys and our friends and allies are gunned down, or, more often, blown up, by proxies. As I have said before, the Iranians dread direct confrontation with other countries, both because they have no confidence in the loyalty of their armed forces (including the thoroughly corrupted Revolutionary Guards Corps), and because it’s not their way. They prefer to kill stealthily, not openly. (…) The direct slaughter at home is not so well covered in the popular press, but Iranians see it every day. Over the weekend, more than fifty executions were publicly announced, and poor souls are rounded up for outrageous prison terms. Crackdowns on “immoral” behavior (the wrong sort of haircut, the wrong sort of head scarf) are intensifying, and women are now forbidden to enter coffee and tea bars where hookahs are in use. (…) If we had a government that took seriously the Iranian war against us, we would be echoing the Teamster’s call for freedom of association in Iran. Indeed, we’d be busy supporting the people against the regime, both in Iran and in Syria. But no. Instead we appease Iranian allies like the Muslim Brotherhood, continue to meet with regime officials, and have just acquiesced in the official participation of the Islamic Republic in a NATO conference, which further demonstrates our utter failure to fight back against our known killers. (The author, Michael Ledeen, has consistently written good information about internal affairs within the countries of the Middle East. He seldom speaks of politics here in the USA; when he does—like in today’s column—we should give his opinion careful consideration. Ron P.  Every day, I think it more likely we will lose New York or Washington, DC, dropping our economy to 1980 levels. ~Bob.)

Muslim Brotherhood's first demand for US: Drop Israel
Excerpt: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the weekend publicly announced the Obama Administration's desire to reestablish ties with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood responded this week by thanking Clinton, and issuing its first demand of its new American friends: drop support for the "Zionist regime." In an email response quoted by Bloomberg, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan stated that if America wants solid relations with the group, it should "stop supporting the corrupt and tyrannical regimes, backing the Zionist occupation and using double standards."

The Only Reform That Will Restrain Spending
Excerpt: Whatever happens when President Obama meets with congressional leaders of both parties at the White House today, no long-term solution is on the table for the spending habits in Washington that have endangered the prosperity of future generations. With our federal debt exceeding $14 trillion—nearly 100% of our gross domestic product—fiscal calamity is jeopardizing our standard of living and undermining our national security. And President Obama recently requested that we add an additional $2.4 trillion to our debt. There has to be another way, and there is. Republicans in the Senate are united in our concern about our nation's fiscal future. Before we consider saddling our children with even more debt, we must enact significant spending cuts and enforceable caps on future spending. For the long term, to prevent both this Congress and its successors from hijacking the promise of American prosperity, we also need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, like the one we and all 47 Senate Republicans have introduced. The American people who will vote on such an amendment understand the basic financial rules that Washington has been breaking. In the real world, if a household brought in $44,000 annually but spent $74,000 by borrowing $30,000 each year to sustain its spending habits, such behavior would be considered reckless and irresponsible.

This Needs To Be Edited Into A TV Ad
Excerpt: The Charles Koch Foundation has come up with a web ad on economic freedom. It is an important message. I cannot stress enough that you need to watch this. It is only 2 minutes. But more importantly, the Koch Foundation needs to turn this into a 1 minute television advertisement. It’ll require some work to do, but this is a message that needs to get out to the greater masses. If you are a radio show host, you should just play the audio. It is fantastic.

Quote of the day
“We will have to make tough decisions about Defense spending, or even on programs that I like.”* -President Barack Obama, Twitter townhall event. *emphasis added

WHAT? Obama Says Republicans Are Holding A GUN Against The Heads of the American People?
Excerpt: Normally I would point to the hypocrisy of Obama’s party which often uses violent rhetoric while lecturing everyone else on civility but this is so over the top, so beneath the office of the president, I’m actually concerned about the man’s sanity.

Obama accuses Republicans of using debt ceiling as ‘gun against the heads’ of Americans to extract tax breaks for corporate jet owners
Excerpt: More violent rhetoric from the president who called on one segment of America to punish another segment of America as its “enemies.” The One said this during today’s Twitter confab. “The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people to extract tax breaks for corporate jet owners, for oil and gas companies that are making billions of dollars because the price of gasoline has gone up so high.” What, no call for liberals to get to the nearest political knife fight with a gun? Why, it was just the other day that President Obama called for Republicans and Democrats to leave their rhetoric at the door, before he compared Republicans to murderous hostage-takers. And that was after Obama declined a Republican offer to meet on the debt, before deciding to call for a summit to meet with Republicans on the debt. The message in all this is, Obama plays by his own rules while trying to dictate the rules to the rest of us.

U.S., Mexico sign cross-border trucking deal, tariffs fall
Excerpt: U.S. and Mexican officials signed an agreement Wednesday allowing each country's trucks to traverse the other's highways, implementing a key provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement after nearly two decades of bickering. (What US sane trucker is going to drive in Mexico ?... It's a War Zone. --DH)

Illiberal Immigration
Excerpt: Recently, in symbolic fashion, spectators of Mexican ancestry in Pasadena's Rose Bowl did not merely cheer on the Mexican national soccer team in a game against the U.S. national team -- such nostalgia is natural and understandable for recent immigrants -- but went much further and also jeered American players and, indeed, references to the United States. Which was the home team? Was America to be appreciated for accepting poor aliens, or resented for not granting them amnesty? Is the idea of the United States to be conveniently booed or opportunistically thanked -- depending on whether you are watching a soccer match or, for example, entering an Los Angeles hospital emergency room with a life-threatening injury? This otherwise insignificant but Orwellian incident reminds us that illegal immigration in the 21st century is becoming an illiberal enterprise. Consider the prevailing myth of Mexico as America's "partner." Aside from the violence and drug cartels, an alien from Mars who examined the relationship would instead characterize it as abusive. Close to a million Mexican nationals annually try to cross illegally into the United States, aided and abetted by a cash-strapped Mexico -- in a fashion that the latter would never permit on its southern border with Guatemala. Indeed, if Guatemala had published an illustrated comic book instructing, in picture fashion, its presumed illiterate emigrants how to enter Mexico illegally -- as Mexico actually did -- the Mexican government would have been outraged. So is the surreal logic of Mexico City summed up by something like, "We value our own people so much that we will help them break laws to go elsewhere"?

Taliban Hotel Attack: Low Death Toll, High Psychological Value
Excerpt: At about 10 p.m. on June 28, a group of heavily armed militants attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to government and media reports, the attack team consisted of eight or nine militants who were reportedly wearing suicide vests in addition to carrying other weapons. At least three of the attackers detonated their vests during the drawn-out fight. Afghan security forces, assisted by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), needed some eight hours to clear the hotel of attackers. One group of militants even worked their way up to the roof of the hotel, where they fired several rocket-propelled grenades. The attack resulted in the deaths of 12 people, as well as all the militants. The Taliban had a different take on the attack, posting a series of statements on their website claiming responsibility and saying the assault was conducted by eight operatives who killed 90 people and that the real news of their success was being suppressed. (Initially, the Taliban claimed to have killed 200 in the attack but reduced the toll to 90 in later statements.)
Excerpt: The sound that you’re hearing is the muttered “Uh-oh” of a plethora of staffers at the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives. Of particular interest is the letter that Oversight Chair Darrell Issa and Judiciary Ranking Member (for now) Chuck Grassley sent to Attorney General (for now) Eric Holder regarding Melson’s testimony… but we’ll get that in a moment. For those coming in late: Issa and Grassley are investigating the horrifically botched Fast & Furious program that Justice/BATFE had put together, starting in late 2009. F&F was this ingenious method by which the federal government ended up knowingly and deliberately permitted illegally-resold firearms to be supplied to Mexican narco-terrorists; said narco-terrorists then proceeded to use those guns to shoot various hostages, Mexican civilians and police officers, at least one US Border Agent… as you can imagine, the Mexican government is not exactly pleased about any of this, which is why elements within said government are currently muttering about extradition treaties. This is where Kenneth Melson comes in: he is the Acting Director of BATFE, and was apparently picked to be the duly-assigned sacrificial lamb in this particular drama. Only, it turns out that Melson doesn’t actually believe in any of that dulce et decorum est pro Duce mori stuff; so he grabbed a lawyer and started talking to Issa & Grassley – on July 4th, no less. So now, let’s talk about that letter. To summarize it:

Feds unseal indictment against ex-Dearborn resident in alleged terror plot
Didn’t get the memo. Another way the terrorists hurt us is that the law enforcement and military resources directed to stopping them are not available to deal with other threats, and add to government’s growing debt. Note that Hezbollah has a Canadian branch. ~Bob. Excerpt: Federal prosecutors in Detroit have unsealed a two-year-old criminal indictment against a former Dearborn man who, they say, tried to use a phony U.S. passport to sneak into Israel in 2000 to carry out a bombing for Hizballah. The indictment, handed down in August 2009, said Faouzi Mohamad Ayoub, 44, who also goes by the name Fawzi Ayoub, used a passport in the name of Frank Mariano Boschi to try to get into Israel. The U.S. State Department has designated Hizballah as a Lebanese terrorist group. … The government said he was born in Lebanon, immigrated to Canada and was recruited by Hizballah’s Canadian branch.

Article on Muslim Brotherhood Website: Implement Shari'a in Phases
You don’t want to start off by stoning teenage rape victims and marrying 9-year-old girls to 50-year-old men looking for a third wife. Bad PR. ~Bob. Excerpt: In a June 11, 2011 article on the website of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, veteran movement member Sheikh Ahmad Gad argued that the implementation of shari'a in Egypt must be achieved gradually, by preparing the peoples' hearts and minds for it and introducing it in stages. He proposed learning from the methods of the early Muslim Brotherhood, which worked in a step-by-step fashion, and called on Al-Azhar to focus on promoting the implementation of shari'a.

Research on Muslims in Danish schools: Extremely low intellectual skills, undisciplined, disrespectful, unambitious parents
Insha’Allah, I will pass the test or not—no use studying. ~Bob. Excerpt: I am currently working as a school psychologist, and below I will try to decipher the latest school report on immigrant students in Denmark. In Denmark, we use "bilingual" as a word for immigrant student -- and according to the report, by far most of these students are Turks, Pakistanis, Arabs and Serbs/Croatians. While Serbs and Croatians perform normally, the Muslim students perform very poorly. Below the chart are some of the salient facts.

Weapons prove Iranian role in Iraq, U.S. says
Excerpt: Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are using more sophisticated weapons than in the past to target U.S. troops and military installations in Iraq, according to senior U.S. officials. James F. Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said Tuesday that fresh forensic testing on weapons used in the latest deadly attacks in the country bolsters assertions by U.S. officials that Iran is supporting Iraqi insurgents with new weapons and training. Weapons “We’re not talking about a smoking pistol. There is no doubt this is Iranian,” Jeffrey said in an interview. “We’re seeing more lethal weapons, more accurate weapons, more longer-range weapons,” Jeffrey added. “And we’re seeing more sophisticated mobile and other deployment options, and we’re seeing better-trained people.” (Huh. Guess the plan to meet with Iran without preconditions didn’t work so well. Only option left is to let the Iraqis be slaughtered until Iran takes over, then blame Bush. ~Bob.)

Investing in Cronyism -- Does it pay?
Excerpt: Can you get rich betting on companies who are close to Obama?
I've always suspected that this is a dangerous game because of the fickleness of politicians and the tendency of government intervention to provide only short-term benefits. Ira Stoll, at the "Future of Capitalism" blog decided to measure the question through an experiment, creating the "Crony Capitalism Index" consisting of companies whose executives are tight with the President. His findings: The results? An investment in the companies whose executives President Obama appointed to the President's Economic Advisory Board back on February 6, 2009 — UBS, GE, Caterpillar and Oracle — would have gained 151%, far outperforming the broader stock market during this period, which rose 52%, as measured by the S&P 500 Index.

Did Ron Bloom lie to Congress?
Excerpt: Ron Bloom, the former union consigliere who helped Steve Rattner bail out the auto industry from within the Treasury Department, was there in the room when auto bailout czar Steve Rattner informed the representative for Chrysler's secured creditors that the Obama administration was going to steal their property and redistribute it to the United Auto Workers. 'I need workers to make cars," Bloom reportedly said, "but I don't need lenders."

Is the Justice Department covering up 'Fast and Furious'?
Excerpt: It's been nearly four decades since Watergate, so perhaps we should not be surprised that memories have faded about one of the crucial lessons of that scandal: The coverup is always worse than the original crime. The amnesia even affects law enforcement officials, notably Attorney General Eric Holder and others in the Justice Department appointed by President Obama. Evidence turned up by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests these officials knew a great deal more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have so far admitted. Fast and Furious was the outrageous program implemented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in which firearms were intentionally sold in the United States to agents of Mexican drug cartels. The idea was that the guns would be traced to cartel "higher-ups" after being used in crimes and thereby strengthen law enforcement investigations and prosecutions in the U.S. and Mexico.

Romney strikes a blow against Romney
Excerpt: Any candidate for president can fall victim to occasional stumbles, lapses, gaffes and clunkers. But Mitt Romney has a shot at raising ineptitude to an art form. The other day, he had to answer a question about how the economy has fared under the current administration. Before he was done, though, Romney managed to give the impression that if he dove off a dock, he'd miss the water. He also undermined his chief assets in the campaign: a supposed mastery of economic issues and a reputation for competence.

The United States administration's recent decision to establish contacts with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood organization is a severe blow to moderate, secular Muslims who are trying to achieve democracy and prosperity in their countries. The U.S. announcement will only undermine the so-called "Facebook Uprising" that has been sweeping the Arab and Muslim world in the past few months. This is an uprising spearheaded by secular Muslims who have, until now, succeeded in marginalizing Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood did not play any role in toppling the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Nor does the organization seem to have any significant role in the anti-government uprisings in Yemen, Syria and Libya. But the Obama administration's decision to engage the Muslim Brotherhood will pump life into the organization and bolster its supporters in the rest of the Arab and Muslim countries.

Norway: 54 percent want no more immigrants
Excerpt: A majority of Norwegians wants to close the borders to immigrants: Of the respondents, 53.7 percent stated that the sentence "We should not let more immigrants into Norway" fits very or fairly well with their own opinion. In 2005, when the survey was conducted for the first time, 45.8 percent said the same thing. At the same time, 48.7 percent said that immigrants integration is poor or very poor, an increase of 12 percentage points since 2005. (Probably too late. For them and us. ~Bob.)

‘Cut, cap, balance’ pledge complicates debt-limit calculus
Excerpt: A small but vocal group of Republicans, including some freshmen, in both chambers are rebelling against their party leaders as they form what they hope is an impenetrable firewall against a debt-limit deal that doesn’t include significant spending cuts and a balanced budget constitutional amendment. The “Cut, Cap, Balance” pledge has been signed by just 12 senators and 28 House members. Their mission is to oppose any move to raise the borrowing limit unless it’s accompanied by significant spending cuts and caps, and to pass of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. But by setting a high bar for a debt-limit vote, the conservative rabble-rousers virtually ensure that House Republicans, who hold 240 seats in the lower chamber, will need the support of some Democrats to reach the 218-vote threshold for passage for a debt-limit increase. And that’s a tall order as some Democrats are already pledging to block any deal that cuts key priorities.

Senators push deal to end ethanol subsidies this month
Excerpt: A bipartisan trio of senators announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement on a way to end ethanol subsidies immediately. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) told Senate leaders that their proposal would repeal the 45-cent ethanol blender credit at the end of July, saving $2 billion through the end of the year. It would also end a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on foreign ethanol this month. But it would extend a tax credit for green biofuels production for three years, expanding it to include fuels made from algae.

Ron Johnson’s One-Man Protest : A freshman senator stands up for fiscal responsibility.
Excerpt: Near dusk, on Tuesday, June 28, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin took to the floor. The mild-mannered former businessman did more than offer a few words — he threatened to halt Senate business. “Unless we receive some assurance from the Democrat leadership that we will actually start addressing our budget out in the open, in the bright light of day, I will begin to object,” he said. “Unless that happens, I will begin to withhold my consent.” Johnson’s one-man protest raised eyebrows around the upper chamber, where unanimous consent greases the procedural gears. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, sensing trouble, promptly quashed the standoff. But the message was clear: Johnson is not afraid to tussle. Indeed, as the debt debate rages, the freshman Republican has emerged as one of the leading conservatives in the fight, riling Democrats at every turn.

"War on Islam" Fuels Plots on Military Recruiting Center
Excerpt: Newly unsealed court documents reveal new details about a plot to attack a military recruiting center in Seattle. Items seized by federal investigators from the home of accused lead conspirator Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif include plans to attack a U.S. military facility and motivational materials related to alleged atrocities committed by American soldiers overseas. The attack on the Seattle military installation is yet another example of a terrorist plot in which American military personnel in the United States have been targeted by Islamist radicals opposed to U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. In each case, the perceived oppression of Muslims by U.S. forces overseas and the belief that Islam is under attack from the West has been the primary motivation behind the plots. Among the recent cases is the 2009 Fort Hood massacre carried out by Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, the killing of an Army recruiter in Little Rock, Ark earlier that year by a convert to Islam who described his actions as "a jihadi attack on infidel forces," and a Maryland man who hoped to attack a recruiting office.

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