Thursday, October 13, 2011

Political Digest for October 13, 2011

Blog Removed.
If you log on to the Old Jarhead blog and get this notice, please check back. From time to time, Google’s Spam Filter pulls my blog. They restore it when I appeal, but they don’t seem to have the technical ability to fix the problem. I hate to move to another platform with page views running to 10k a week and over 1,150 followers here.

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Book Recommendation: Manstein: Hitler's Greatest General by British Major General Mungo Melvin
General Melvin obviously set out to write the definitive biography of Manstein and in my view has succeeded. This will now be the standard work on Manstein, against which all others will be judged. At over 500 pages, it is for the serious historian or the dedicated WWII/Military History buff, not the casual reader looking to pass a few hours. Given the complexity of the Eastern Front, the inclusion of clear, easy to understand maps is a plus. Melvin has both the professional ability to understand and judge Manstein’s decisions, and a fine ability to clearly convey them to the reader, even to readers like myself who never commanded anything larger than a 3-man radio relay team. Melvin clearly admires Manstein’s operational genius, but pulls no punches on the Field Marshal’s willingness to turn a blind eye to Nazi terror to protect his own career. Like so many German officers, Manstein was not a Nazi, but made his peace with them, a peace that led to atrocities in his area, for which he was convicted of war crimes in 1948. He fought Hitler on operational decisions, but not on moral ones, and felt he could not join the attempt on Hitler’s life without betraying his troops who were fighting the Russians. It is interesting that many in Britain opposed the prosecution of Manstein, and no less a figure than Churchill made a token contribution to his defense. The reader is left to wonder if, raised in the Prussian military tradition, you would have sacrificed career and perhaps family and life to oppose Hitler’s murderous policies. Some did, Manstein did not. We can only hope we would have acted differently in the same circumstances.

Obama's jobs plan blocked in Senate
President Obama received a slap from members of his own party Tuesday as the Senate voted 50-49 to block his $447 billion jobs package. The jobs plan, which the president has spent much of the last month touting on a cross-country tour, fell well short of the 60 votes it needed to proceed. The only Democrats to vote against the measure were Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), but a number of other centrists in the party indicated they would vote against the package even though they supported launching a debate on the measure. (Bad news for Obama. I’m sure he wanted the Senate to pass, House to defeat, so he could clearly blame the Republicans. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: Principle-Agent theory and the welfare state
Excerpt: Disincentives in controlling poor performance apply not only with respect to welfare recipients and public officials, but also to subsets of voters who demand further taxpayer funding. Self-interest, after all, is by no means confined to material benefits. It may also include emotional incentives where people derive benefits from public displays of support for particular causes. Thus, the pursuit of expressive benefits by "bleeding hearts" eager to display their greater concern for the poor or the disabled may perpetuate ineffective policies. If the costs of supporting failure are not concentrated on the bleeding hearts themselves, they are likely to demand a higher level of support than may be warranted. And, when the decision to reconsider support for a particular program is unlikely to affect either the future of that program or the size of one's own contribution to it, there are few incentives to consider more effective alternatives. Experience differs across countries, but the lack of effective monitoring in welfare states must account in part for the substantial increase in those claiming various "disability" benefits within developed nations. At a time when general health levels have been improving, more and more people are replacing work-generated income with disability benefits. In the United Kingdom, for example, between 2001 and 2011 the number of people claiming disability allowance increased from 2.2 million to 3.2 million. This represents almost a 50 percent increase during a period when population growth was no more than 2 percent. Across the Scandinavian countries, with their healthy populations and well-trained doctors, between 10 and 14 percent of the population are on disability benefits. In the Netherlands, 1 million people are dependent on disability payments in a labor market of only 7 million. Even in the United States--which has traditionally taken a more restrictive approach to disability allowances--the proportion of the population claiming benefits has been increasing at a rapid rate.

Act of War: Iranian Terror Attack in U.S. Thwarted
Excerpt: Defense officials have confirmed that no military reaction is in the works, while the State and Treasury Departments seem to indicate that the only immediate reaction against this act of war will be economic sanctions. Reacting at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey notes that the Obama administration seems to be reacting to this terrorist plot by treating it as a law enforcement matter, which sets a disastrous precedent: “If we’re charging an official of the Iranian government with complicity or worse in this plot, then it ceases to be a law enforcement issue and becomes a military and political issue instead. This isn’t a case of espionage but of sabotage or worse, which would be an act of war by anyone’s definition. If we’re not willing to respond in kind, we then send a signal to hostile nation-states around the world that attacks on the U.S. are low-risk, high-reward affairs — and we’d better get ready for an avalanche of them. (..) Iran will continue to plot against the United States as long as the reaction against such attacks remains toothless diplomacy. The Obama administration celebrates a temporary victory today, as they assure that the one-way war will drag on indefinitely.

Never have so few been blamed for so much by so many
Excerpt: Here's your final exam question in Middle Eastern studies: A mass of Coptic Christians marches through Cairo to protest the military government's failure to protect them from Muslim radicals. They are attacked by stone-throwing, club-wielding rowdies. Armed forces security personnel intervene, and the Copts fight it out with the soldiers, with two dozen dead and scores injured on both sides. Who is to blame? The full credit answer is: Benjamin Netanyahu, for building apartments in Jerusalem. If that's not what you wrote, don't blame me if you can't get a job at the New York Times. Rarely in the course of human events have so few been blamed by so much for so many. There are precedents, for example, when Adolf Hitler claimed that a Jewish "stab in the back" lost World War I for Germany. The notion that the problems of three hundred million Arabs revolve around the governance of a few million Palestinians has the same order of credibility. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations always presumed that Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan would remain intact - that Egypt would interdict terrorists infiltrating Israel from the Sinai, stop weapons from reaching Hamas in Gaza, and otherwise fill its obligations. But Egypt is dissolving. The Egyptian army crossed a red line on October 9, according to Egyptian blogger Issander al-Armani. [1] Soldiers attacked Coptic demonstrators who were demanding protection from the army. The military not only shut down news coverage of the massacre, but used state television to call on Egyptian Muslims to "defend the army from the Copts".

UK Intelligence: Suicide Bombers Await London Olympics
Excerpt: British intelligence officials say there could be 200 potential suicide bombers in the country, many waiting to strike during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Senior intelligence officials called the figure a "conservative estimate" and that the network behind them could involve up to 2,000 active Britain-based Islamist extremists.
Train stations or public events are the most likely targets, the Telegraph reported, rather than Olympic venues where high security measures will make it more threaten the success of their operations.

Worth Reading: Sinful: The politics of envy.
Excerpt: Bigotry has many wellsprings, but it always draws on the groundwater of envy. “How can that (choose your slur) have two horses when I only have one?” the envious man asks. Hence August Bebel’s famous description of anti-Semitism as the “socialism of fools.” In America, we have our own politics of fools. John Edwards leads an all-star cast of liberal politicians and intellectuals (Edwards is decidedly not the latter) who worship at the altar of Invidia, praying that she will exact penance from the undeserving half of our “two Americas.” Like the “scientific socialism” that concealed envy behind a slide rule, today’s liberals invoke social science as justification for their covetousness. In one famous study, a majority of people said they would rather make $50,000 if others earned $25,000 than earn $100,000 if others were making $200,000.

$4.7 billion in renewable power loans completed
Deadline coming. Spend. SPEND! ~Bob. Excerpt: The federal stimulus program that gave bankrupt Solyndra its controversial loan raced to a close Friday, with government officials finalizing $4.7 billion in loan guarantees to renewable power companies at the last possible moment. Facing an end-of-day deadline set by President Obama's stimulus act, the U.S. Department of Energy approved loan guarantees to build three massive solar power plants in California and place solar panels on commercial buildings in 28 states. San Jose's SunPower Corp. won final approval of a $1.2 billion guarantee for its California Valley Solar Ranch, which will blanket a rural stretch of San Luis Obispo County with solar cells. Fremont's Solyndra received the program's first loan - for up to $535 million - in 2009, only to file for bankruptcy on Sept. 5. Since then, the loan program has come under intense scrutiny and criticism, even as Energy Department officials tried to beat Friday's deadline to complete loans. In all, the program awarded about $16 billion in loans and loan guarantees to build wind farms and solar plants, as well as factories to produce turbines, solar cells and advanced biofuel.

Excerpt: The latest issue of Health Affairs is devoted to racial and ethnic disparities in the consumption of health care. Naturally, they found some. Why are they there?
Let’s consider another necessity: food. Suppose you get a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese and a large order of fries, my favorite fast food indulgence when I put all considerations about healthy eating aside. Do you think your burger would have less cheese if you were a black customer? Would your fries be less crispy if you were Hispanic? Would the meat would be less juicy if you earned a poverty level wage? The answer to these questions is obvious. Just about anybody in America can have the same fast food dinner anyone else in America is having — usually with very little inconvenience. If there is any disparity in this market, it is due solely to individual preference and choice. So what makes health care different? I am happy to report that increasingly, it isn’t different. MinuteClinics, RediClinics and other walk-in establishments around the country offer standardized services that are comparable to the market for cheeseburgers and fries. In fact, almost one of every five people who got a flu shot last year got it at a supermarket or a drugstore. At a walk-in clinic, your flu shot costs the same as my flu shot. Your allergy prescription is just as inexpensive and just as accessible as mine. If there is any difference between us it is solely due to differences in needs and preferences. Nothing more.

Financial Literacy, Retirement Planning, and Household Wealth
Excerpt: There is ample empirical evidence documenting widespread financial illiteracy and limited pension knowledge. At the same time, the distribution of wealth is widely dispersed and many workers arrive on the verge of retirement with few or no personal assets. In this paper, we investigate the relationship between financial literacy and household net worth, relying on comprehensive measures of financial knowledge designed for a special module of the Dutch Central Bank Household Survey (DHS). Our findings provide evidence of a strong positive association between financial literacy and net worth, even after controlling for many determinants of wealth. Moreover, we discuss two channels through which financial literacy might facilitate wealth accumulation. First, financial knowledge increases the likelihood of investing in the stock market, allowing individuals to benefit from the equity premium. Second, financial literacy is positively related to retirement planning, and the development of a savings plan has been shown to boost wealth. Overall, financial literacy, both directly and indirectly, is found to have a strong link to household wealth. (My concern about GOP plans to privatize Social Security. Many of the ignorant would squander what little they might save, and then throw themselves on the mercy of society. Would we let them starve? Unlikely. ~Bob.)

Don't be charitable about jobs bill
Excerpt: President Obama revived one of his favorite revenue-raising proposals in his recent jobs plan: limiting the itemized tax deductions that "millionaires and billionaires" (defined as individuals earning over $200,000 or couples earning more than $250,000 per year) can take for mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable contributions. By the White House's calculations, this modest move would raise 86.9 percent of the $467 billion needed to pay for the jobs plan over the next 10 years. While the White House's revenue calculations are highly questionable, what aren't questionable are the consequences of the president's proposal. According to Internal Revenue Service figures, individuals claimed nearly $34.9 billion in charitable deductions on their federal tax returns in 2009. Households reporting $200,000 or more in annual income claimed $19.14 billion, or 54.9 percent, of these deductions. Prior to the new jobs initiative, the president previously had gone after the charitable deduction in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal. That proposal called for limiting the tax deduction for high-income earners by as much as 30 percent.

Higher Health Insurance Premiums This Year? Blame ObamaCare
Excerpt: Most Americans saw their insurance bills jump this year, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The average employer-based premium for a family increased a startling 9% in 2011. Over the next decade, rates are expected to double. The Kaiser report is only the latest piece of research to indicate that ObamaCare isn’t driving down health care costs, as its proponents promised, but is instead accelerating their rise.

Depressing but important: The Top 100 Statistics About the Collapse of the Economy That Every American Should Know
Excerpt: The U.S. economy is dying and most American voters have no idea why it is happening. Unfortunately, the mainstream media and most of our politicians are not telling the truth about the collapse of the economy. This generation was handed the keys to the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen, and we have completely wrecked it. Decades of incredibly foolish decisions have left us drowning in an ocean of corruption, greed and bad debt. Thousands of businesses and millions of jobs have left the country and poverty is exploding from coast to coast. We are literally becoming a joke to the rest of the world. It is absolutely imperative that we educate America about what is happening. Until the American people truly understand the problems that we are facing, they will not be willing to implement the solutions that are necessary. The following are the top 100 statistics about the collapse of the economy that every American voter should know....

It’s the Space Development and Settlement, Stupid
Excerpt: The reality is the reason that Isabella scrounged up the moolah to finance his trip was that she was expecting a financial return — cheaper spices from Asia, at the time a hot commodity that involved long trips around the bottom of Africa and across the Indian Ocean, and back. She didn’t do it out of any noble search for scientific knowledge, and neither did he. He wanted to find wealth, seek fame, and spread the word of his religion (i.e., “God, Gold, and Glory”). But in terms of space policy, we don’t seem to have learned the lessons of Columbus. (…) Since the sixties, our rationale for human spaceflight has always been described as for “exploration.” “For all mankind.” Star Trek, with its iconic beginning of “where no man has gone before,” did nothing to help. But space exploration for space exploration’s sake can’t justify the billions that we’ve been spending on it, particularly when robots are much more cost effective at it, and we haven’t “explored” anything beyond low earth orbit with humans in almost forty years. It’s probably just coincidence, but it’s interesting that at the time of this anniversary of “exploration” by Columbus, NASA is slowly starting to take seriously the only viable rationale for human spaceflight — to actually create human settlements in space, for species preservation if nothing else — which is something that’s hard to do with robots. (This article has an interesting comment stream, about 2 to 1 in favor of human settlement of space. I expected it to be much more tilted toward settlement. The reality is space WILL be settled over the next fifty to one hundred years. The only questions are what languages will be spoken by the settlers and what political/legal frameworks will they carry with them. Hint: it's unlikely it will be ours. Ron P.)

Green Jobs Brown Out
Excerpt: The green jobs subsidy story gets more embarrassing by the day. Three years ago President Obama promised that by the end of the decade America would have five million green jobs, but so far some $90 billion in government spending has delivered very few. A new report by the Labor Department's Office of Inspector General examined a $500 million grant under the stimulus program to the Employment and Training Administration to "train and prepare individuals for careers in 'green jobs.'" So far about $162.8 million has been spent. The program was supposed to train 125,000 workers, but only 53,000 have been "trained" so far, only 8,035 have found jobs, and only 1,033 were still in the job after six months. Overall, "only 10% of participants entered employment." In the understatement of the year, the IG says the program failed to "assist those most impacted by the recession."

It's Hard to Be a Racist By Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: Years ago it was easy to be a racist. All you had to be was a white person using some of the racial epithets that are routinely used in song and everyday speech by many of today's blacks. Or you had to chant "two, four, six, eight, we don't want to integrate" when a black student showed up for admission to your high school or college. Of course, there was that dressing up in a hooded white gown. In any case, you didn't have to be sophisticated to be a racist. Today all that has changed. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., pointed that out back in 1994 when the Republican-led Congress pushed for tax relief. Rangel denounced Republicans' plan as a form of modern-day racism, saying, "It's not 'spic' or 'nigger' anymore. (Instead,) they say, 'Let's cut taxes.'" That means the simple use of the N-word is not enough to make one a racist. If it were, blacks would be the nation's premier racists. Today it's the call for tax cuts that makes you a racist. That's why the "tea" party, short for "taxed enough already," is nothing more than organized racists. What makes tea partyers even more racist is their constant call for the White House and Congress to return to the confines of the Constitution. Racism has other guises. Say that you're a believer in Martin Luther King's wish, expressed in his "I Have a Dream" speech, that our "children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." The call to judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin is really code for racism. There's no question about one's racial antipathy if he voted for measures such as California's Proposition 209, Michigan's Proposal 2, Washington state's Initiative 200 or Nebraska's Civil Rights Initiative 424. These measures outlaw judging people by the color of their skin for admission to college, awarding of government contracts and employment. The call for equal treatment is simply racism by stealth and is far more insidious than name-calling and hood-donning.

Worth Reading: Euro-Debt Danger By Tony Blankley
Excerpt: How dangerous is the European financial condition? On Monday, while stock markets from the DAX and FTSE to the New York Stock Exchange were up sharply on report of French and German cooperative murmurs regarding sovereign debt negotiations (and on temporary easing of U.S. double-dip recession fears), the financial and political European press were warning of a coming financial crisis of unmatched dimensions. The ever stiff upper-lipped London Financial Times let loose with uncharacteristic wails of woe: Its five column above the fold front page headline panted: "Time is short for eurozone," while its editorial page -- in a rare single top to bottom of page leader -- shouted with a now quivering upper lip: "Save Europe's unity now." Typical of elite continental press, the German Der Speigel, under the headline "Financial Crisis Returns" reported: "Sovereign bonds were once considered among the safest of all investments. Yet with Greece teetering and several more eurozone countries on the watch list, the continent's banks are in trouble. The European Union is struggling to come up with an antidote. ...The mood was decidedly somber.... Three years after the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank in September 2008, the crisis is heading toward a new peak. The banks no longer trust each other and, during the past week, prices of insurance policies to protect investors in the event that credit institutions go bankrupt have soared to the highest levels ever observed."

Worth reading: Government the Job Killer By John Stossel
Excerpt: President Obama says government will have to build the nation out of the economic trough." We're the country that built the intercontinental railroad," Obama says. "So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads?" Ironic that he mentions the Chinese. Progressives used to complain that to build the railroad, bosses abused Chinese workers -- called them "coolies" and treated them badly. Now this is big success? I guess Obama doesn't know that the transcontinental railroad was a Solyndra-like Big Government scandal. The railroad didn't make economic sense at the time, so the government subsidized construction and gave the companies huge quantities of the best land on the continent. As we should expect, without market discipline -- profit and loss -- contractors ripped off the taxpayers. After all, if you get paid by the amount of track you lay, you'll lay more track than necessary. Credit Mobilier, the first rail construction company, made enormous profits by overcharging for its work. To keep the subsidies flowing, it made big contributions to congressmen. Where have we heard that recently? The transcontinental railroad lost tons of money. The government never covered its costs, and most rail lines that used the tracks went bankrupt or continued to be subsidized by taxpayers. The Union Pacific and Northern Pacific -- all those rail lines we learned about in history class -- milked the taxpayer and then went broke.

ACLU and Islamists vs. the FBI...Yet Again
The ACVLU should coordinate with CLUs in Muslim countries. What? There aren’t any Muslim CLUs? Why? Oh, no civil liberties. My bad. ~Bob. Excerpt: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued an open letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller last week calling for reform of Bureau training materials the ACLU claims are biased against Muslims. The ACLU letter cited a July article by Spencer Ackerman on WiredNews.com concerning training materials that, in part, allegedly depicted Muslims in a derogatory way. The FBI responded by saying it no longer used that particular training material, which was reported to be only a segment of an overall counter-terrorism presentation. The ACLU letter also principally focused on an FBI Intelligence Assessment document dated May 10, 2006 on homegrown Islamic terrorist radicalization titled, "The Radicalization Process: From Conversion to Jihad," claiming the assessment portrays converts to Islam in America as targets for radicalization who should primarily and mostly be viewed as suspects.

Obama's Failure to Confront the Iranian Threat
Not exactly breaking news. Turns out they think using “Soft Power” means we’re soft. ~Bob. Excerpt: Yesterday, America learned that Iran conspired to launch a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C., with a planned assassination of the Saudi ambassador and bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies. U.S. authorities disrupted the plot and have brought charges against the men who planned to carry out the attack, but the audacity of Iran's actions highlights a disturbing truth: The Obama Administration has done far too little to deter state-sponsored terrorism, and it has utterly failed to confront the Iranian threat. Not one month ago, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood before the United Nations General Assembly in New York City and delivered a speech rife with hatred of the United States, September 11 conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, and Holocaust denials. His diatribe at the U.N. has become an annual ritual, but as we learned yesterday, this year's performance occurred all while Ahmadinejad's government was seeking to attack the United States--a fact that President Barack Obama was made aware of in June of this year.

69% Oppose In-State Tuition To Illegal Aliens (Even 54% of Hispanics are “Heartless”)
Excerpt: Party and ideological divisions are roiling America. Battles over the budget, taxes, jobs and energy have crippled Washington. But there is one issue that people across the political spectrum agree on: they oppose giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. According to the latest poll numbers, 69% of Americans oppose subsidizing those here illegally with in-state tuitions rates. 73% of Republicans oppose it – as one would expect. An even stronger 74% of Independents oppose it. But the same position resonates across ideological and ethnic lines too. 58% of Democrats oppose it too, as do an overwhelming 90% of Black Americans.

Military reprisal is justified, some analysts say. But initially the US is likely to take a diplomatic course, trying to further isolate Iran after its alleged role in an assassination plot on US soil.
One huge bow coming up! ~Bob. Excerpt: Revelations Tuesday of an alleged Iranian-directed plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil will plunge already-confrontational US-Iran relations to new depths.

So Much Media, So Little News
Excerpt: A group of daily papers in New England calls its electronic edition No Inky Fingers. The point, of course, is that with digital news nothing rubs off on readers' hands. But what's rubbing off on their brains? The disappearance of what could be called the mental rub-off effect is partly to blame for the fact that many Americans are overloaded with information, yet seem to know less than ever about current events. As news packaging shifts from general interest to specific interest, it becomes difficult for mass audiences to rub up against the news—even if accidentally. Not long ago most American homes received at least one daily newspaper. Just idly turning the pages to find the sports section or comics, readers couldn't help but glance at the news headlines, and bits of information tended to rub off. Television, before cable and satellite, was arranged so that most entertainment stopped at the dinner hour and again before bedtime for general-interest news broadcasts. Just turning the dial, or waiting for the weather forecast, viewers couldn't help but sample a bit of hard news. And think how radio used to be. The government basically required stations to run news or "public service" programming—so whether you were listening to rock, country or classical, every hour programs paused for a few minutes of news. The news was hard to avoid, and some of it rubbed off. By contrast, today's boutique media allow many people to skip news altogether. (Indeed. Three months after we invaded Iraq, my then-29-year-old step daughter waltzed into our house and asked, “Are we at war?” She doesn’t read the papers or watch “entertainment news” on TV, didn’t know until one of her friends said something. A good reason to pass the Old Jarhead Political Digest on. ~Bob.)

Do law schools defraud students?
Lawyers suing law schools. Great schadenfreude. Kind of like watching Nazi and Communists kill each other on the Eastern Front. ~Bob. Excerpt: New York Law School and two other law schools are staring down the barrel of consumer-fraud class-action lawsuits. Attorneys representing recent graduates plan to soon add at least 15 more schools, including five in New York, to the list. As the economy flounders and a jobs crisis looms for many employment sectors, law-school graduates are taking to the courts because they don’t have jobs. It’s the economy, stupid? If only that were the whole story. The suits center on how law schools recruit students: Many encourage consumers to believe a law degree is their “magic ticket” to financial security. The complaints accuse schools of misrepresenting job-placement statistics and violating state consumer-protection laws. They allege that schools provide information designed to mislead, deceive and prompt consumers into attending programs they’d otherwise have avoided.

Beating a dead goose by Charles Gasparino
Excerpt: Here’s an important irony lost on those zany and sometimes violent Wall Street protesters: On the day that they extended their near riots from the financial district to the swanky uptown neighborhoods where many of the Wall Street millionaires live, we got proof positive that the ranks of the wealthiest Wall Streeters are shrinking. Which is rotten news for the massive New York City welfare state that the protesters say they want to protect. The proof comes from a new report by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli that confirms much that’s been said and reported on these pages: The number of Wall Street fat cats is shrinking fairly dramatically, and will continue to shrink in the years ahead -- meaning even less money coming from one of New York’s most important sources of tax revenue. It also confirms something else reported recently on these pages: Rather than heading uptown to the homes of people like JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, the protesters should be marching south -- way south -- to protest the Washington lawmakers who gave us the jobs-killing Dodd-Frank financial reform. By squeezing Wall Street, Washington’s “reform” is squeezing New York City and the state -- and so helping force cutbacks in public-sector jobs here. (You can always get votes from the economically-ignorant, which OWS certainly is, by promoting policies that sound good and destroy them long term. ~Bob.)

Thwarting Iran’s Chilling Terror Plot
Excerpt: The Obama Administration is accusing the Iranian regime of being behind a foiled plot to kill the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil and to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies. The Iranians sought to use the Mexican drug cartels as cover, allowing them to wage war while hidden in the shadows. If this is what Iran is willing to do without nuclear weapons, what will the regime do when it gets the bomb?

Iranian Terror: Nothing New
Excerpt: This was not the first, nor will it be the last, attempt that the Iranians undertake to kill Americans and our allies through terrorism. Below are just a handful of the more significant atrocities perpetrated by Iran against the U.S. and our allies:

Not a Single Christian Church Left in Afghanistan, Says State Department
No big deal. But draw one cartoon of Mo…~Bob. Excerpt: There is not a single, public Christian church left in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department. This reflects the state of religious freedom in that country ten years after the United States first invaded it and overthrew its Islamist Taliban regime. In the intervening decade, U.S. taxpayers have spent $440 billion to support Afghanistan's new government and more than 1,700 U.S. military personnel have died serving in that country. The last public Christian church in Afghanistan was razed in March 2010, according to the State Department's latest International Religious Freedom Report.

Indictment Alleges Syrian Plot to Silence U.S. Protestors
Excerpt: A Virginia man has been indicted on charges he helped the Syrian intelligence service spy on dissidents in the United States. According to a six-count indictment released Wednesday, Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid, also known as Anas Alswaid, taped anti-Syrian protests beginning last spring, sending recordings to handlers within the Syrian Mukhabarat intelligence service. He also obtained the protestors' email addresses and telephone numbers, which he allegedly provided to his Syrian handlers. He is charged with conspiracy to, and acting as, an agent of a foreign government. "The ability to assemble and protest is a cherished right in the United States, and it's troubling that a U.S. citizen from Leesburg is accused of working with the Syrian government to identify and intimidate those who exercise that right," Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia said in a statement. "Spying for another country is a serious threat to our national security, especially when it threatens the ability of U.S. citizens to engage in political speech within our own borders."

Excerpts: Friday was just another day in a continuing series of bad days for the administration of President Barack Obama, as the furor surrounding the executive branch’s gun-walking scandal continues to escalate. The day began with a gritty montage-style video from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asking the question few in the media are willing to ask about the gun-walking program: Holder vs. White House: Who Is Responsible? Like a duffel bag stuffed with straw-purchased Draco pistols, the day quickly went “south” from there. The White House attempt to implement a weak “Bush did it too” defense collapsed in spectacular fashion, in the worst possible way. The administration – specifically the Department of Justice — leaked a claim that a Bush-era operation called “Wide Receiver” also walked guns to Mexican cartels, just like Obama’s Operation Fast and Furious. The claim served as a “hook” to draw out news agencies that had up until now largely ignored the scandal out of partisan deference to the White House.

Conservative activists launch ‘We are the 53 percent’ [Slideshow]
Excerpt: Much has been made of the similarities between the tea party and the recent Occupy Wall Street protest, but while they both share a populist bent and an emphasis on public demonstrations, their goals couldn’t be more different. The latest round of mimicry is the brainchild of RedState’s Erik Erickson and filmmaker Mike Wilson, and it’s a Tumblr blog modeled after Occupy Wall Street’s ‘We are the 99 percent’ blog. Both sites feature webcam photos of people holding up signs inscribed with their own personal financial sob stories. But while the original seems to communicate a sense of hopelessness and anger directed at the rich and powerful, the 53 percenters — named after the percentage of Americans that pay income taxes — are comprised of, “Those of us who pay for those of you who whine about all of that… or that… or whatever.” Here are some of TheDC’s favorite postings from the contrarian Tumblr.

USC's biomass plant debacle
Excerpt: On June 28, 2009, an explosion rocked the biomass-fueled power plant on the campus of the University of South Carolina. The force of the blast sent a metal panel some 60 feet toward the control office of the plant at Whaley and Sumter streets, according to documents obtained from USC by The State newspaper through a Freedom of Information Act request. No one was hurt, but USC officials were concerned enough about the “potentially lethal accident” that they ordered an independent safety review and, in a strongly worded letter to the company that had built the plant, made it clear that university staff would not be allowed back into the building until the review was completed. The blast underscored what some USC officials privately grumbled about for years: That the plant has been a $20 million disaster, a money pit that was poorly planned and built by a company that had never constructed such a cutting-edge “green energy” power plant before. (…) USC, whose officials touted the plant “as the cat’s meow” before its startup in December 2007, closed it in March of this year after it had been shut down more than three dozen times. In one two-year period, the plant only provided steam – its purpose – on 98 out of 534 days, according to a USC review. (It seems being academically connected doesn’t help “green industry” function properly, either. Add this to the growing list of failures. As usual, it took FOIA requests to get the information in this article. Ron P.)

30 times worse than Solyndra
Excerpt: Say, how's that GM investment working out for taxpayers?BailoutCost.com calculates to the second and to the penny how much we are in the hole on the Government Motors bailout. Briefly: We own about 500 million GM shares. To break even, they need to be sold at $53 per. Right now they're trading at about $23. Which loses us about $15 billion. Remember, Solyndra lost us: $0.5 billion. (Yes, but it kept the UAW dollars coming to the Obama campaign. ~Bob.)

Obama's earplugs and blinders prevent job creation
Excerpt: Republicans are often accused of being ideologically inflexible, but when it comes to being pigheaded, the man in the Oval Office takes the cake. President Obama refuses to budge on his belief that Americans must be forced to stop using fossil fuels like oil, gas and natural gas as soon as possible and to instead begin depending on clean energy. In his own words, the Obama policy means "electricity prices must necessarily skyrocket." Obama's rigidity on energy policy is also an obstacle to economic recovery. The unemployment rate has been above 9 percent during most of his tenure in office, and there are multiplying signs that it could go back into double digits in coming months. Everything Obama has tried -- including his $757 billion economic stimulus package, massively expanding federal regulation of the economy, record-setting levels of federal spending, bailing out Wall Street and Detroit, funding clean energy fiascos like Solyndra -- has failed to put America back to work. In many respects, Obama's policies have made things worse.

Protesters won't dare picket Obama
Excerpt: Lefties are aglow as protests spread like a rash through Manhattan and other big cities, sure this is just what their side needs. The offensive protesters took them off the defensive. This is their first jolt of speed since Grant Park and Barack Obama. After many false starts, this is their Tea Party. If they can turn mobs out, what can't they do next? For one thing, they could mobilize, organize and elect their own candidates. They could elect a really left-wing and liberal president, and huge majorities in the House and the Senate, and have them fix everything. But wait: They did that three years ago! They elected the Senate's most liberal Democrat, along with supermajorities, and gave them a chance to stop "greed." Their president and congressional majorities did nothing. They still have the White House, along with the Senate, and they're still doing nothing. The Tea Party began at rock bottom and locked out of power, yet clawed its way upward.

Reality Check: ABC, CBS and NBC Bury News of Taxpayer Money Squandered on Obama-Linked Solar Energy Company
Excerpt: A study by the Media Research Center finds that the three broadcast networks are providing virtually no coverage of the Solyndra scandal, a solar energy firm that went bankrupt after getting more than $500 million in taxpayer money from the Obama administration. This is not the approach the networks took after the collapse of Enron, an energy company with Republican ties. In just the first two months of 2002, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts cranked out 198 stories on the Enron debacle, compared to just eight so far on Solyndra, a 24-to-1 disparity.

Why Iran assassination plot doesn't add up for Iran experts
Excerpt: How careful is Iran's Qods Force when it comes to covert operations abroad? This wing of the Revolutionary Guard was accused by US military commanders in Iraq in 2007 and 2008 of jeopardizing the efforts of more than 150,000 American troops on the ground, of backing militias of all stripes, and of exercising strong influence on Baghdad's rulers. Yet how many Iranian Qods Force operatives did that take? One US diplomat posted to Baghdad at the time had what he thought to be the consensus answer: There were just eight Qods Force men in all of Iraq. Indeed, the Qods Force has a reputation for careful, methodical work – as well as effective use of local proxies, and ultimately their pragmatic deployment by Tehran as covert tools to expand Iran's influence across a region in flux. That explains why Iran experts are raising questions about fresh US charges of an Iran-backed bomb plot, this time to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington and blow up the Saudi and Israeli embassies. (While offering no answers, this article asks some interesting questions. --Ron P.)

Contribute to Scott Brown
His far left opponent has raised $3M! You may be surprised that Brown from liberal Massachusetts doesn’t vote like he’s from SC or AL. You may think he’s a RINO. But his opponent is very far left, and without him Harry Reid and the liberals are likely to control the senate in 2013. ~Bob.

Ex-Indiana governor: That's not my signature on Obama petition
Former Gov. Joe Kernan says a signature on a petition to place Barack Obama's name on Indiana's 2008 primary ballot isn't his, putting him among dozens of dubious signatures found in a newspaper's investigation. Kernan, a Democrat who campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary, told the South Bend Tribune that he didn't sign the Obama document. Bend mayor said when asked whether the signature next to his name on the Obama petition looked like his own. "Nor does the printing look like mine." The Tribune reported Wednesday that it has talked with more than 40 people who say they didn't sign ballot petitions submitted in St. Joseph County for Obama or Clinton, despite their names appearing on the documents. (I’d start with hand-writing samples from Rahm, Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko. It’s the Chicago Way. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Still, the notion of exchanging more than 1,000 Palestinians for just one Israeli seems absurd. And it will likely have long-term negative consequences. The Guardian reports, many of the prisoners to be released were the same “militants who were involved in some of the bloodiest terrorist attacks to strike Israel.” The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg echoed those concerns, writing: “Many of the people released out of Israeli jails, we have to assume, may return to violent anti-Israel activities…” (Goldberg also correctly noted that the deal would seem to incentivize more soldier kidnappings in the future.) (How about the Israelis who will die at the hands of the released murderers? Why put them in prison at all if the terrorists can capture another get-out-of-jail-free soldier? And will they now try this on us—release KSM and the Gitmo detainees, Obama, or a US soldier gets it? ~Bob.)

Biden Warns of More Rapes and Murders If Jobs Bill Is Not Passed
Well, we know blaming the victim is wrong, and blaming the perps risks being called racist, so lets blame…John Boehner! Or maybe global warming for the hot nights….~Bob.

Occupy L.A. Speaker: Violence will be Necessary to Achieve Our Goals
Excerpt: Occupy L.A. Speaker: “One of the speakers said the solution is nonviolent movement. No, my friend. I’ll give you two examples: French Revolution, and Indian so-called Revolution. Gandhi, Gandhi today is, with respect to all of you, Gandhi today is a tumor that the ruling class is using constantly to mislead us. French Revolution made fundamental transformation. But it was bloody. India, the result of Gandhi, is 600 million people living in maximum poverty. So, ultimately, the bourgeoisie won’t go without violent means. Revolution! Yes, revolution that is led by the working class. Long live revolution! Long live socialism!” (A threat of real violence, and he’d wee his panties. ~Bob.)

Obama DOJ circling the wagons to defend Holder
Excerpt: Two Iranians, who allegedly worked for Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard, were charged with plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. They were also charged with plotting to attack the Saudi and Israeli embassies, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday during a press conference at the Justice Department. However, the lead terrorist -- Manssor Arbabsiar -- was arrested on September 29 in New York. Arbabsiar allegedly was a member of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard and he confessed to the assassination plot. A question being asked by many is: Why did Holder wait almost two weeks to make his announcement? Over the Columbus Holiday weekend and during a Monday morning appearance on the Fox News Channel Congressman Darrell Issa continued his verbal attacks on Attorney General Eric Holder for his role in a botched ATF undercover gun-smuggling operation under investigation by Issa's congressional committee.

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