Saturday, July 9, 2011

Political Digest for July 9, 2011

Best older posts for new blog readers

FREAKY FRIDAY Meets Statesman & Marine Robert A. Hall
I’m to be interviewed about my book on Friday, July 15, at 2:00 PM EDT/1:00 PM CDT by Ann Ubelis on her “Southern Sense” talk radio show broadcast in Beaufort, SC. (Doubtless DIs at Parris Island will play it to abuse the recruits!) The call in number to speak with the host is (917) 889-3675.

Rubio: 'We Don't Need New Taxes. We Need New Taxpayers'
Excerpt: Rubio's speech in the Senate below, but here's the money quote:
We don't need new taxes. We need new taxpayers, people that are gainfully employed, making money and paying into the tax system. Then we need a government that has the discipline to take that additional revenue and use it to pay down the debt and never grow it again. That's what we should be focused on, and that's what we're not focused on.

Video: “We know tyranny when we smell it.”
Walter Williams discusses this in his book Race and Economics, if I recall correctly. When government interferes in the taxi market, you get a lot of “gypsy” unlicensed cabs. Also discriminates against minorities who can’t come up with the medallion price. Creates a shortage of cabs. Allows for political favoritism and bribes. ~Bob. Excerpt: TV video: “D.C. Taxi Heist: How a new law would screw drivers and riders.” (Mild NSFW language warning) From the description at YouTube: Washington, D.C. is considering a bill that would require every cab driver in the city to own a special permit called a medallion. The total number of medallions would be capped at 4,000, which would reduce the current number of cabs by more than one-third and put thousands of drivers out of business. (The city government has no idea how many licensed cabs are in the district, though estimates range from 6,500 to 10,000.) If that weren’t bad enough, most drivers wouldn’t have the option of buying a medallion. The first set of medallions would be offered for sale to the minority of cabbies who have been driving for at least five years and who live in Washington D.C. (Again the city government has no idea how many current drivers meet this criteria, but rising real estate prices and weak city services have led many drivers to leave the district.)

Obama Pal and Terrorist Dohrn Linked to Mexican Killer Case
Excerpt: Crime reporter and blogger Tina Trent says that President Obama’s intervention on behalf of an illegal alien killer can be traced back to a 2003 conference that featured Bernardine Dohrn, Van Jones, and representatives of the Soros-funded Open Society Institute. “The purpose of the conference was to find ways to insinuate international (read: United Nations) laws and resolutions in American legal arenas, as Sandra Babcock is attempting to do to free her client, Humberto Leal,” Trent reports on her blog.
Babcock is the attorney for a killer described in liberal media reports as “a Mexican national” who is in fact an illegal alien convicted of the 1994 kidnapping, rape, and murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda in San Antonio, Texas. Leal was scheduled to be executed on Thursday night in Texas before the Obama Administration intervened on his behalf, claiming his rights as an illegal in the U.S., under an international treaty, had not been protected. Leal has had the benefit of 45 different hearings and appeals and his guilt is beyond question.

The Audacity of Dopes Band brings you "Guns, Guns, Guns!"
Too funny.

The Wisconsin Solidarity Diet
The solution to America's problems.

Mexican National Executed in Texas, Despite International Pressure
This will arouse the pro-rapist left. Giving guns to Mexican cartels to murder Americans is one thing. But punishing a Mexican for killing an American is outrageous. ~Bob. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Mexican National who was convicted of the brutal rape and killing of a teenage girl in 1995 died Thursday evening by lethal injection at a Texas prison. Efforts by Humberto Leal's attorneys to halt the execution fell short, with the U.S. Supreme Court turning back a stay request and Texas Gov. Rick Perry refusing to grant a pardon. He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. local time. In his last minutes, Leal repeatedly said he was sorry and accepted responsibility. "I have hurt a lot of people. ... I take full blame for everything. I am sorry for what I did," he said in the death chamber. "One more thing," he said as the drugs began taking effect. Then he shouted twice, "Viva Mexico!"

Iran Steps Up Anti-U.S. Rhetoric, Tightens Bonds With Iraq, Afghanistan
Excerpt: Ahead of planned drawdowns of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran continues to deepen its ties with its two neighbors, while escalating its anti-American rhetoric amid a fresh show of military bravado. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday wrapped up a 10-day exercise, Great Prophet 6, during which it test-fired what it claimed were indigenously-designed radar-evading missiles, reportedly hitting ground- and sea-based targets. The missiles’ claimed range could threaten Israel as well as U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. (While this may be bluster, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on Iran. This is a big and unpleasant escalation of their rhetoric. Ron P. Say, how's those meetings without preconditions to reset our relationship, that we were promised in 2008, going? ~Bob.)

Calif Bar weighs illegal immigrant's application
That it's being considered indicates how hopeless the future is. ~Bob. Excerpt: A California State Bar panel is considering whether an illegal immigrant who passed the exam to practice law should be admitted despite his status. The case of Mexican-born Sergio Garcia could be the first reviewed by the panel since California began asking applicants about their immigration status in 2008, the Daily Journal reported Wednesday. Garcia attended college in Chico and passed the Bar exam in July 2009. Since then, he has been waiting to see if he can be admitted even though he is an illegal immigrant. He now works as a paralegal. Garcia was brought to the United States by his parents when he was 17 months old, said Erica Tomlinson, his immigration attorney. He has been sponsored for legal status by a relative, but the process could take another five to 15 years. "It's not a fun way to live," Garcia told the legal newspaper.

Must Read: The Elmendorf Rules
Excerpt: And what have been Obama's own debt-reduction ideas? In last week's news conference, he railed against the tax break for corporate jet owners -- six times. I did the math. If you collect that tax for the next 5,000 years -- that is not a typo -- it would equal the new debt Obama racked up last year alone. To put it another way, if we had levied this tax at the time of John the Baptist and collected it every year since -- first in shekels, then in dollars -- we would have 500 years to go before we could offset half of the debt added by Obama last year alone. Obama's other favorite debt-reduction refrain is canceling an oil-company tax break. Well, if you collect that oil tax and the corporate jet tax for the next 50 years -- you will not yet have offset Obama's deficit spending for February 2011.

Unemployment rose to 9.2 percent in June as US employers add only 18,000 jobs
Excerpt: Hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month, raising doubts that the economy will rebound in the second half of the year after a spring slump. The economy generated only 18,000 net jobs in June, the fewest in nine months. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent, the highest rate of the year.

More Dismal News on Job Creation, Unemployment
Excerpt: Hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month. Employers added the fewest jobs in nine months and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent. The Labor Department said Friday that the economy generated only 18,000 net jobs in June. And the number of jobs added in May was revised down to 25,000.

Price Competition Can Lead to Quality Competition
Excerpt: In our third-party-payer health insurance system the price for care is typically set by entities outside the doctor-patient relationship. As a result, providers rarely compete for patients based on money prices. Potentially they can compete on the time price of care, on amenities, and on quality. Yet providers rarely compete on quality, says John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. In those health care markets where third-party payment is nonexistent or relatively unimportant, providers almost always compete for patients based on price. And where there is price competition, transparency is almost never a problem. Not only are prices posted (as in walk-in clinics, surgi-centers, etc.), they are often package prices, covering all aspects of care (as with cosmetic surgery, Lasik surgery, etc.), and therefore easy for patients to understand. Wherever there is price competition, there also tends to be quality competition. In the market for Lasik surgery, for example, patients can choose traditional Lasik or more advanced custom Wavefront Lasik. Prices range from less than $1,000 to more than $3,000 per eye. In the international medical tourism market, some hospitals in India, Thailand and Singapore disclose their infection, mortality and readmission rates and compare them to such U.S. entities as the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic. Competition tends to produce more uniformity of fees and waiting times than would otherwise be the case. Similarly, quality competition tends to produce either uniform quality or a uniform trade-off between money prices and quality, says Goodman.

Differences In The Volume Of Services And In Prices Drive Big Variations In Medicaid Spending Among US States And Regions
Excerpt: It is well known that Medicaid spending per beneficiary varies widely across states. However, less is known about the cause of this variation, or about whether increased spending is associated with better outcomes. In this article we describe and analyze sources of interstate variation in Medicaid spending over several years. We find substantial variations both in the volume of services and in prices. Overall, per capita spending in the ten highest-spending states was $1,650 above the average national per capita spending, of which $1,186, or 72 percent, was due to the volume of services delivered. Spending in the ten lowest-spending states was $1,161 below the national average, of which $672, or 58 percent, was due to volume. In the mid-Atlantic region, increased price and volume resulted in the most expensive care among regions, whereas reduced price and volume in the South Central region resulted in the least expensive care among regions. Understanding these variations in greater detail should help improve the quality and efficiency of care—a task that will become more important as Medicaid is greatly expanded under the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment
Excerpt: Americans may be surprised to learn that little solid evidence exists to support the claim that expanding health insurance will improve the health and financial security of the uninsured; that some research calls into question whether broad coverage expansions improve health at all; and that some research even suggests that the overall benefits of such expansions may not be worth the cost. We lack definitive evidence because no developed nation has ever conducted a study that randomly assigns people to receive health insurance in order to control for other factors that might affect these outcomes. Until now, says Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute. In 2008, Oregon decided to enroll an additional 10,000 people in its Medicaid program via lottery. Recently, the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment (OHIE) researchers released their results after year one of the experiment. As one might expect, Medicaid coverage led to higher medical consumption. It also reduced financial strain for beneficiaries. Other findings were less intuitive. For example, medical consumption was no higher in the first half of the year, suggesting there was no "pent-up demand" for medical care. Also, the OHIE found no discernible difference in emergency room use between Medicaid enrollees and the control group. Supporters of President Obama's health care law may tout these benefits, but the OHIE does not provide the vindication they seek. First, despite being eligible for Medicaid, 13 percent of the control group had private health insurance -- suggesting that on some dimension, Medicaid's eligibility rules are already too broad. Second, the OHIE extended coverage to the most vulnerable population of uninsured Americans, yet the improvements in health and financial security are so far apparently modest. Third, supporters must show not only that expanding coverage improves health but also that it does so at a lower cost to taxpayers than alternative policies.

From The Patriot Post
At this point, we see the race as among Romney, Bachmann and Pawlenty -- Perry, too, if he declares. That's not a reflection of our preferred candidates, and it will no doubt cause some Ron Paul supporters to have a coronary event, but we're just calling it as we see it. You may now send us your complaints.

I Agree With Obama
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies. ... Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better." –Sen. Barack Obama, 2006. From The Patriot Post www.patriotpost.us/subscribe/

Not Everyone is Hurting
Things aren't so bad for members of Obama's staff, though. The administration recently released a report confirming that 454 White House aides will earn a whopping $37,121,463 this year. By law, the information must be made public, but the ever-savvy Obama released the information on Friday afternoon before the July 4th holiday weekend. Obama said that those salaries had been "frozen," but apparently that means that only 75 percent of staffers got raises between 2009 and 2010. The average increase was about 15 percent. The report also excluded the identities of the 41 Obama staffers who owe $831,000 in back taxes. One would think a president so outraged at the tax breaks afforded to "millionaires, billionaires and corporate jet owners" would have a zero tolerance for this sort of thing. From The Patriot Post www.patriotpost.us/subscribe/

Beware of Dr. Jihad
Excerpt: There should be no shock at the role of purported healers in these and other hellish plots to destroy masses of innocent lives in the name of Allah. Anyone who still clings to the bleeding-heart belief that poverty breeds terrorism -- including, alas, our commander in chief -- is willfully blind to past history and present reality. Medical charities have long served as front groups for jihad. Palestinian jihadists used ambulances owned and operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) -- subsidized with billions in American tax dollars -- to ferry explosives and gunmen from attacks. Hezbollah terrorists used ambulances as props in Lebanon to stage anti-Israel propaganda and elicit sympathy from Western media. And radical Islam's bloody perversion of the medical profession traces back to the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood, the global terror operation that wooed wealthy young docs and other intellectual elites with cushy union benefits.

It's ... Back! The Misery Index Rides Again
Excerpt: Remember the Misery Index? It tends to reappear whenever the economy exhibits a couple of unwelcome trends in unusual tandem: not just a high unemployment rate but more inflation, too. Talk about a double whammy. Add those two figures together and you get the Misery Index. So if you combine the current 9.1 unemployment rate with the 3.6 inflation rate, the rate of misery in the American economy is 12.7. The country hasn't seen that kind of number in almost 30 years. The president indelibly associated with the Misery Index is Jimmy Carter, who made a talking point of it in the long-ago presidential election of 1976. He said the index was too darned high -- it stood at a painful 13.6 percent back then. But by the time Mr. Carter ran for re-election as president in 1980, he had managed to raise it to almost 22 percent. And he would lose the White House to Ronald Reagan.

ICO orders release of (mostly useless) weather station data
Excerpt: The Information Commissioner's Office has ordered the University of East Anglia to release a portion of a weather dataset. The University's Climatic Research Unit had shared the data with Georgia Tech but refused to release it more widely. A leading Oxford physicist, Professor Jonathan Jones, made the successful request, which the ICO has now published. The CRUTEM data set contains gridded weather station data provided by over 100 national meteorological services. Although CRU shared at least part of the data set with sympathetic academics, it had refused it to Jones and others in 2009, claiming several justifications. One justification that it was already available. Others were that the data wasn't already available but that making it available would breach copyright, harm the suppliers and jeopardise international relations. The ICO rejected all grounds and ordered it to be disclosed to Professor Jones. (...) In Parliament's enquiries into the Climategate Affair, Graham Stringer MP was surprised to learn that the CRU team couldn't produce the same result twice. "When I asked Oxburgh if [Keith] Briffa [CRU academic] could reproduce his own results, he said in lots of cases he couldn't," Stringer told us. "That just isn't science. It's literature. If somebody can't reproduce their own results, and nobody else can, then what is that work doing in the scientific journals?" (As usual, the UK press is way ahead of the US media on AGW coverage. Some of the data behind the Climategate emails is finally being forced into the open by the UK Information Commissioner (he enforces the UK’s version of FOIA). Also part of the article is a reproduction of half a dozen of the emails themselves that are quite revealing. Ron P.)

The 14th Amendment Coup d’Etat
Excerpt: The idea for the allegedly constitutional ploy appeared first on April 28, in a faux speech in The Atlantic, penned for the president by one Garrett Epps, author of a 2007 book on the 14th Amendment. Epps teaches “creative writing for law students” at the University of Baltimore, and apparently practices what he teaches. Coincidentally, the very next day Bruce Bartlett’s column in the Fiscal Times appeared, advancing the same concept. These two apparently unconnected men sowed the seeds of this blooming progressive meme. By May, no less a figure than Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pulled out a pocket Constitution during a Politico-sponsored panel discussion, and read aloud a single sentence from the amendment. “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

An Economy in Panic
Excerpt: There's no good way to spin the news that came out of today's monthly U.S. jobs report. The economy generated only 18,000 total new jobs, the unemployment rate increased to 9.2 percent, and the number of unemployed Americans has gone up by 445,000. In other words, the recovery appears to have slowed markedly. President Barack Obama's stimulus-infused "recovery" refuses to ignite, unsurprisingly to all but him. And to make matters worse, May's paltry job growth numbers were revised even farther downward, from the initial estimate of 54,000 to 25,000. Sadly, the record continues—the Obama recovery remains the weakest recovery of the post–World War II era. In past recessions, employment fully recovered within two to three years. Today, U.S. job growth is stopped dead in its tracks.

Legislators’ vital work veiled from public’s eye
Excerpt: The $30.6 billion budget approved by the Legislature last week was negotiated almost entirely in secret, with six lawmakers meeting for 24 days of talks that were off limits to taxpayers. Debates, agendas, and even the times and locations of the meetings were held in strict confidence. No minutes were kept. Information blackouts are treated with an almost religious reverence by the power brokers on Beacon Hill, who frequently decline to detail what is being discussed out of what they term “a respect for the process.’’ Massachusetts, the birthplace of American democracy, is one of fewer than 20 states with virtually no requirements that legislators discuss government business in public, according to a Globe review of open government data compiled by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. This state is one of about 10 in which the public does not have even limited rights to view legislators’ records. (When I was in the Massachusetts Senate, constituents were often angry with me for measures I had zero knowledge of until they came to the floor, where the fix was in. ~Bob.)

From The Goldberg File by Jonah Goldberg
You can subscribe at http://www.nationalreview.com/
Excerpt: As for this gun business, I have sympathy for Mexico's anger. Every day, Fast and Furious is shaping up to be one of the most idiotic and infuriating government foul-ups in recent memory -- and that is some stiff competition. And the stupidity had bloody consequences. So yeah, the Mexicans have every right to be ticked off. As for the execution of a guy who raped and murdered a teenage girl? Meh. If I was calling the shots in Mexico, I'd tell those guys with the whistles to pipe down and I'll pour my own shots. I'd also just let this one slide. It's just a bad look to get haughty on principle about a guy who raped and murdered a teenage girl (mutilating her body with bites and a stick before bashing her head in with a rock). As for the cheddar thing, well, how do you say "cheddah makes it beddah" in Spanish? And speaking of bad looks, I do wish Mexico would stop pounding its spoon on its high chair about these outrageous assaults on "Mexican sovereignty." Again, they should be pissed about the guns on the merits. But it is difficult to take the whining about sovereignty too seriously from a country that, as a matter of policy, encourages massive illegal emigration to our country and calls us racist and inhumane when we do anything to stop it. Indeed, Mexico's official position is that if we adopted the same immigration policies they use to police illegal entrants from their southern border, we would be committing an outrage.

The government’s war on cameras
Excerpt: Jerome Vorus was taking pictures of the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. last July when he decided to snap some photographs of a routine traffic stop. Little did he know he would soon find himself detained by police for photographing them without permission. Of course, Vorus was well within his rights, but he still had to wait an hour and a half in the back of a squad car before the officers released him. Vorus filed a lawsuit last week against the District of Columbia and the four police officers involved in his detainment, claiming his Fourth and First Amendment rights were violated. He is being represented in his case by the American Civil Liberties Union. There have been numerous cases like Vorus’ recently, where citizens are being detained, arrested or intimidated for documenting police activity or even just taking photos of government buildings. “This is happening more and more,” Vorus said in a phone interview. “Police are arresting journalists, photographers and tourists, often using excuses like terrorism or security.” (…) “The general consensus is the act of videotaping in itself is not illegal, so long as the person recording the officer’s actions remains at a reasonable distance and does not interfere with the officer or create a safety situation,” Roberts said. Police officers also have no reasonable expectation to privacy while in public and performing a public service. (Hasn’t the excuse for all sorts of surveillance always been “if you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear?” It seems to me that works in both directions. And, more cameras is probably better than fewer as it reduces the chance of “creative editing” to alter what is played back by any of the other cameras. Ron P.)

To Slow Piracy, Internet Providers Ready Penalties
Excerpt: After years of negotiations with Hollywood and the music industry, the nation’s top Internet providers have agreed to a systematic approach to identifying customers suspected of digital copyright infringement and then alerting them via e-mail or other means. Under the new process, which was announced Thursday, several warnings would be issued, with progressively harsher consequences if the initial cautions were ignored. The companies took pains to say that the agreement did not oblige Internet providers to shut down a repeat offender’s account, and that the system of alerts was meant to be “educational.” But they noted that carriers would retain their right to cut off any user who violated their terms of service. (Identified by user name or computer URL? If your child downloads from your business address, who gets slowed? Throw-away user IDs/ISPs/domain names? This will have some problems, but it’s still better than being sued for both parties. Ron P.)

Pakistan slams US admiral’s allegation that it sanctioned journalist’s killing
Excerpt: The allegation by the top U.S. military officer that Pakistan’s government sanctioned the killing of a journalist who wrote about the country’s powerful security establishment was “extremely irresponsible,” the Pakistani state-run news agency said. The verbal sparring over the death of Saleem Shahzad has added even more strain to U.S.-Pakistani relations, which have teetered badly since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 in a northwest Pakistani army town. (The "US Admiral" is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If true, this says a number of things. First, it says the Pakis aren't fighting quite the same war we are, though there may be areas where our interests overlap. Second, it says we have some allies, or at least assets, that can get us intel the Pakis don't want us to have. Not a happy situation for either of us. Ron P.)

How Bright Promise in Cancer Testing Fell Apart
Excerpt: The Duke program — considered a breakthrough at the time — was the first fruit of the new genomics, a way of letting a cancer cell’s own genes reveal the cancer’s weaknesses. But the research at Duke turned out to be wrong. Its gene-based tests proved worthless, and the research behind them was discredited. Ms. Jacobs died a few months after treatment, and her husband and other patients’ relatives are suing Duke. The episode is a stark illustration of serious problems in a field in which the medical community has placed great hope: using patterns from large groups of genes or other molecules to improve the detection and treatment of cancer.

Bulb ban's dark consequences
Excerpt: Many who govern in America's capital think that they can wave their legislative wands and unleash beauty -- free of costs and complications. Of course, reality rarely cooperates. Consider Washington's ban on the incandescent light bulb. If left unchallenged, Jan. 1 will herald stricter standards that Congress designed in 2007 to electrocute Thomas Edison's invention and dragoon Americans into using more energy-efficient alternatives. Americans are enduring a parade of unforeseen consequences as "the experts" try to extinguish this landmark contribution to humanity. Compact Fluorescent Lamps, which Washington hopes will replace incandescent ones, brighten slowly, function poorly with dimmer knobs and emit a color of light that many find unappealing. Even worse, according to EnergyStar.gov, each CFL contains 4 milligrams of toxic mercury. An average CFL includes enough mercury to pollute 528 gallons of water.

Letter to Senator Patty Murray, Chair Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Excerpt: For many months now, your colleagues in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership have engaged in a series of disparagements and ad hominem attacks about us, apparently as part of a concerted political and fundraising strategy. Just recently, Senator Reid wrote in a DSCC fundraising letter that Republicans are trying to “force through their extreme agenda faster than you can say ‘Koch Brothers.’” So you can imagine my chagrin when I got a letter from you on June 17 asking us to make five-figure contributions to the DSCC. You followed that up with a voicemail* indicating that, if we contributed heavily enough, we would garner an invitation to join you and other Democratic leaders at a retreat in Kiawah Island this September. I’m hoping you can help me understand the intent of your request because it’s hard not to conclude that DSCC politics have become so cynical that you actually expect people whom you routinely denounce to give DSCC money.

State & Local California Bill Pushing Greater Union Power Is 'Roadblock to Reform,'
Excerpt: A pending California bill that would allow unions to directly appoint half of city and county civil service commissions is a misguided piece of legislation that would allow "government insiders to set public policy," critics told FoxNews.com. The bill, AB 455, passed California's state Senate by a vote of 23-14 on Tuesday and now awaits the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown. If signed into law, AB 455 would allow unions to appoint half of the members of bodies that resolve disputes regarding wages, hours and other terms of conditions of employment. If multiple bargaining units are represented by different recognized employee organizations, the union representing the "largest number of employees would designate commission members pursuant to that provision," according to the bill. (California rushes toward the abyss. ~Bob)
West calls for Eric Holder's removal
Excerpt: A new member of Congress who rode into office during the 2010 American rejection of Washington's business-as-usual practice today said that a special prosecutor needs to review the actions of Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the "Fast and Furious" gun scandal where weapons were sold to carriers known to supply Mexican drug lords, and the circumstances make it appear that President Obama could have dirty hands in the deal.

Campaign 2012: Are We Over “The Black Thing” Yet?
No. If you had a magic wand that would eliminate racism forever, black and Democrat “leaders,” who depend on it for power, would have you killed rather than let you go forward. ~Bob. Excerpt: My fellow Americans, in regard to the U.S. presidency, please tell me we are over "the black thing." Can we move past race and gender and simply elect the best American for the job? Due to liberal media manipulation and guilt, America elected an incompetent black guy as leader of the free world to prove that we are not racist. Obama's black skin has made him untouchable, the left's dream tool to further their socialist agenda. Once America gets over "the black thing", will the liberal media demand we elect Hillary to prove we are not sexist? How long will it be before the liberal media demands that we elect our first openly gay/lesbian president to prove that we are not homophobic?

Final Trip to the Final Frontier
Excerpt: If all goes according to the flight plan, the last launch of the last Space Shuttle will take place on Friday morning at 11:26 EDT. The Shuttle Atlantis will move supplies and equipment to the International Space Station on a mission officially known as STS-135. According to NASA there have actually been 134 missions prior to this, so for the several years this mission has been in planning, training, engineering, and building it has been known as STS-135 and so it shall be when it lifts off. The Shuttle era began with Columbia's first flight on April 12, 1981 and continued with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. (…) People of my era grew up during the space age. I am old enough to remember standing outside our house on Long Island in 1957 pretending we could see Sputnik - the first manned satellite - flying overhead. (Atlantis launched successfully. There was actually another shuttle that never flew named Enterprise. It was originally planned to be named “Constitution,” but instead was named for the Star Trek vessel. Like the author, I was also out looking for Sputnik—which the author mis-identifies as “manned,” which it wasn’t—both during daylight and at night. My father and I did see it several nights later. I was disappointed it was just a small, bright light moving faster than the “other stars.” Ron P. The money to do great things has been squandered on vote-buying. Part of America’s decline toward the abyss. ~Bob.)

Top Obama adviser says unemployment won't be key in 2012
Excerpt: President Obama’s senior political adviser David Plouffe said Wednesday that people won’t vote in 2012 based on the unemployment rate. Plouffe should probably hope that’s the case, since dismal job figures aren’t expected to get any better for Obama and the economy on Friday. Most economists expect a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show that the nation added about 100,000 jobs in June. That’s not enough to keep up with population growth, let alone lower the unemployment rate or make a dent in the 9 million jobs lost during the so called Great Recession. (More brilliant wishful thinking from the same big brains who also think Iran will turn soft and fuzzy with a “new start.” Maybe we can steal Clinton’s line: “It’s the economy, Stupid.” Ron P.)

German Panzers Return to the Desert
Excerpt: Probably not since the Second World War will the world witness the appearance of so many German battle tanks in a desert setting. But instead of the descendants of Rommel’s Afrika Korps, the tanks will be manned by Saudi military personnel. That’s because Saudi Arabia will soon become the proud owners of up to 200 German Leopard tanks when the recent $2.5 billion deal negotiated with the German government is finalised. The Leopards the Saudis will receive are the latest model (2A7+) in the German arsenal and the best that country’s robust armaments industry can produce.

Three Ways to Tell if a Muslim Charity Supports Jihad
Excerpt: Does the Zakat Foundation of America merely help, in an innocent charitable way, “the poorest people” or is it a front for jihad? Part of the answer comes in the identity of the Muslim thinkers the foundation promotes. Chief among them is Yusuf al-Qardawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who in 2009 declared his hope that before his death, even if he was wheelchair-bound, he would be able to “shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom.” Another answer comes in the organizations with which the charity is associated. A number of organizations in the United States have already been identified as Muslim Brotherhood front groups by the FBI. The Zakat Foundation of America works with at least two of the 29 groups the bureau has specified as falling into this category—the Islamic Center of North America (ISNA) endorsed the Zakat Foundation as an organization with “a strong history of immediate and effective responses to national and international disasters” and featured in several of the Zakat Foundation promotional videos. The other Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group the Zakat Foundation collaborates with is the Muslim Students Association (MSA), having designed printed material guiding MSA activists on “How to start a successful halaqa group in your Masjid,” “How to Help Neighbors in Need,” and “Starting a Food Pantry.”

Report: Pakistan will have 150 to 200 nuclear warheads in the next decade
Excerpt: They already have more than Britain, even though they are not self-sufficient in protecting what they have, but reliant on U.S. help. "'Pak will have 200 N-warheads in a decade'," from the Press Trust of India, July 7 (thanks to S): Washington: Pakistan has the world's fastest-growing nuclear stockpile and it could achieve 150-200 warheads in a decade despite the political instability in the country, two top American atomic experts have said. Pakistan is in the process of building two new plutonium production reactors and a new reprocessing facility to fabricate more nuclear weapons fuel, wrote nuclear experts Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris in the latest issue of Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Probably investing in a trucking company, given the news this week. Suggested name: Atomic Allah Trucking. ~Bob. Excerpt: A document drop by LulzSec has revealed an ominous bulletin from police officials in Tucson, Arizona. In short, law enforcement is advised to be on the lookout for Hezbollah terrorists operating in the traditional smuggling corridors on our (wide-open) southern border with Mexico.

Fueled by verdict anger, push for 'Caylee's Law' starts in Pa., N.J.
Excerpt: The national wildfire known as "Caylee's Law" has come to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Legislators in both states are drafting proposed laws - in response to public uproar over the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial - that would oblige parents and guardians to promptly report the death or disappearance of a child. (I may be the only one in the world who agrees with the jury. I can’t see how to convict anyone of killing another without any known cause of death. Maybe she did it by voodoo, but then the prosecutor’s job is to prove that, and he didn’t. Legislators should move cautiously enacting any new laws. As the saying goes, hard cases and high passions make for poor laws. Ron P. Have to disagree. I don’t follow celebrity trials much, but I understand she didn’t report the girl being missing for 30 days. The standard can’t be that you can smother a child, then hide the body until it rots so they can’t prove how the child died, and you walk. ~Bob.)

I.R.S. Drops Audits of Political Donors
Excerpt: The I.R.S. audits became public just as such groups were ramping up for the 2012 election cycle, and a group of six senators led by Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican from Utah, wrote to the I.R.S. commissioner Douglas H. Shulman raising concerns that its effort to impose gift taxes on donations to these groups was politically motivated and in violation the First Amendment.  “This decision today ensures that the I.R.S. remains free from even the hint of undue political influence,” Mr. Hatch said in a statement on Thursday. “It cannot be turned into an arm of political retribution or payback.” (When Richard Nixon did things like this it was called “dirty tricks,” and everyone agreed it was illegal. Still more brilliance from our crack Administration. Ron P. Typo—I think you meant “crank administration.” ~Bob.)

The Kabuki Theater of the Debt Deal
Excerpt: After months of savaging each other as the country moved perilously close to defaulting on its debt, Democrats and Republicans are now moving toward a deal that would slash spending between $2 trillion and $4 trillion, raise taxes and stave off disaster. How did that happen, exactly? The answer is that while feeding red-meat rhetoric to their ideological bases, President Obama and the GOP reluctantly embraced the politics of adulthood behind the scenes, recognizing that they would pay a huge price—and shatter the fragile economic recovery--by failing to boost the debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline. (The tax increases will hurt the economy and the cuts—like the last round—may never happen. ~Bob.)

Dozens of 'Fast & Furious' guns were confiscated from illegal aliens in Phoenix
Excerpt: In case you weren't aware, Phoenix's ABC 15 News recently reported that guns from the ATF's disastrous "Operation Fast and Furious" are being used in local crimes.
This week, ABC 15 compared the serial numbers of dozens of Fast and Furious" guns to those seized from a group of illegal aliens in an April drug bust. Guess what they found? (Ganwalker is different from Watergate in two ways. 1. Watergate didn’t directly kill any American citizens. 2. The media were trying to expose Watergate, not cover it up. ~Bob.)

Obama Would Fear Rick Perry the Most
Excerpt: A recent state-by-state comparison study by the Texas Public Policy Foundation found that Texas had a state tax burden of 8.4%, compared to a U.S. average of 9.7%. And the Texas gross state product grew 94.5% over 10 years, vs. 66.3% for the rest of the country. Texas far outpaces other states in job creation. Michael Cox and Richard Alm, director and writer-in-residence, respectively, at Southern Methodist University’s William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom write: “From January 2000 to June 2010 [Perry's tenure], Texas had a net increase of nearly 1.1 million jobs—more than any other state by far. In fact, Texas’ outsized gains eclipsed the total of the next five job-creating states: Florida, Arizona, Virginia, Utah and Washington.”

Price Competition Can Lead to Quality Competition
Excerpt: In our third-party-payer health insurance system the price for care is typically set by entities outside the doctor-patient relationship. As a result, providers rarely compete for patients based on money prices. Potentially they can compete on the time price of care, on amenities, and on quality. Yet providers rarely compete on quality, says John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. In those health care markets where third-party payment is nonexistent or relatively unimportant, providers almost always compete for patients based on price. And where there is price competition, transparency is almost never a problem. Not only are prices posted (as in walk-in clinics, surgi-centers, etc.), they are often package prices, covering all aspects of care (as with cosmetic surgery, Lasik surgery, etc.), and therefore easy for patients to understand. Wherever there is price competition, there also tends to be quality competition. In the market for Lasik surgery, for example, patients can choose traditional Lasik or more advanced custom Wavefront Lasik. Prices range from less than $1,000 to more than $3,000 per eye. In the international medical tourism market, some hospitals in India, Thailand and Singapore disclose their infection, mortality and readmission rates and compare them to such U.S. entities as the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic. Competition tends to produce more uniformity of fees and waiting times than would otherwise be the case. Similarly, quality competition tends to produce either uniform quality or a uniform trade-off between money prices and quality, says Goodman.

House Hearing: Hizballah Threat Looms in U.S. Backyard
Excerpt: Hizballah has established a vast network of operatives throughout Latin America, and even in North America, which could be used to wage terrorist attacks against American interests if the group or its Iranian patrons see fit, witnesses told a House Homeland Security subcommittee on Thursday. The threat is not imminent, panelists said, as the Lebanese-based Shiite group focuses on money-making criminal enterprises like narco-trafficking. More than 80 Hizballah operatives have been identified in at least a dozen South American countries, said Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs.

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