Sunday, October 23, 2011

Political Digest for October 24, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

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 7k a week and over 1,100 followers here. Sigh.

Charities I support

Absolutely Must Read Book: Advice to War Presidents by Angelo Codevilla
If they would read it, I'd be delighted to buy copies of this book for President Obama, Secretary Clinton and all the GOP Contenders. It's a must read for officials and everyone interested in foreign policy. Dr. Codevilla eviscerates everyone: Bush and the "Neo-cons," the CIA, Kissinger and the "Realists," and every progressive from Wilson on. There is something here to offend every viewpoint. There were things that made me uncomfortable and that I disagree with, but I'm willing to concede that the author has both more experience and has thought more deeply that I have about the subject. This is a book that will challenge your viewpoints and make you defend them. It may, and should, change your views of both war and statecraft. I highly recommend this book.

Important: Progressives, Islamists huddle at Justice Department
Excerpt: Top Justice Department officials convened a meeting Wednesday where invited Islamist advocates lobbied them for cutbacks in anti-terror funding, changes in agents’ training manuals, additional curbs on investigators and a legal declaration that U.S. citizens’ criticism of Islam constitutes racial discrimination. The department’s “civil rights lawyers are top of the line — I say this with utter honesty — I know they can come up with a way” to redefine criticism as discrimination, said Sahar Aziz, a female, Egyptian-American lawyer. “I’d be willing to give a shot at it,” said Aziz, who is a fellow at the Michigan-based Muslim advocacy group, the Institute for Social Policy & Understanding. (And to hell with the First Amendment. Note that Islam is the only “race” you can join, just by saying, “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet.” Will Muslim criticism of Jews by illegal as well? ~Bob.)

Washington Post Downplayed Obama's Big Embellishment about Mother's Health Insurer
You don’t think the Post could be—gasp!—biased? ~Bob. Excerpt: The Washington Post has taken a beating for publishing a report claiming that Florida senator Marco Rubio "embellished" the story of how his parents left Cuba. The story is ridiculously hyped and based on the false premise that Rubio's parents don't count as "exiles" because they first came to the United States in 1956, prior to Castro's 1959 takeover. They tried to return in 1961 but could not stay because it was "clear that Cuba was headed full speed toward Communism," as Rubio's office told the Post. "[I]f my grandparents left Germany in 1930 or 1931 and wanted to go back but couldn't in '33. Wouldn't they be exiles?" Jonah Goldberg writes on Twitter. The Post was much easier on Barack Obama when a biography by reporter Janny Scott revealed that Obama falsely claimed his mother's insurer tried to deny health care coverage because of a "pre-existing condition."

WaPo Fact Checker: Biden’s absurd claims about rising rape and murder rates
Fact Checker seems to be straight. ~Bob. Excerpt: In any case, the vice president should know better than to spout off half-baked facts in service of a dubious argument. Even if one believes there is a link between crime and the number of police—which is debatable and subject to many caveats—there is no excuse to make the dramatic claim that more people will die or be raped without additional funds for police. When making such a breathtaking charge, you had better have your facts straight. Four Pinocchios.

BREAKING: Marco Rubio Plagiarizes Speech From Noted British Politician
Indeed. Too funny. ~Bob.

Obama stands tall after Gadhafi's demise
Excerpt: The death of Moammar Gadhafi represents another major foreign policy victory for President Obama, who backed a months-long air campaign in Libya while facing criticism from the left and the right. Obama stared down congressional skeptics across the political spectrum in ordering the strikes just 18 months after becoming the first U.S. president to shake Gadhafi’s hand. Gadhafi’s death is unlikely to significantly bolster Obama’s reelection chances, but the issue, supporters say, shows the president’s leadership skills and it will surely be cited next year on the campaign trail. (And well he should stand tall. It’s not every day your allies shoot a POW without trial. Lucky he was “leading from behind” so not near the shooting. And it only cost a billion dollars, thousands of missing SAMs and exposed the weakness of NATO. ~Bob.)

Obama Jobs Bill Could Dry Up 238,000 Pharmaceutical Jobs, Report Says
Excerpt: President Obama’s jobs bill could result in the loss of as many as 238,000 jobs in the pharmaceutical industry by 2021, says a new study says. The American Action Forum (AAF), a conservative think tank headed by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, says to help pay for Obama’s American Jobs Act, prescription drug manufacturers would be required to give billions of dollars in rebates to the federal government to have their drugs dispensed to low-income seniors through the Medicare Part D program. Those rebates would save the federal government $135 billion over ten years, the Office of Management and Budget estimated. But the savings would come at the expense of the pharmaceutical industry: (Progressives never get TANSTAAFL. ~Bob.)

The Obama Problem
Excerpt: No president in recent history began his term with higher expectations and goodwill than Barack Obama, but the promise and exhilaration that accompanied his election was short-lived. In less than three years, Obama plummeted from the heights (his "Messiah" entry) to the depths (a "worse than Jimmy Carter" figure). The turnaround was astonishing in its speed and magnitude. To put matters in perspective, it took George Bush almost eight years to hit bottom. And Bush always had little support from the media, a force that continues to protect Obama.

The Day after the US Withdrawal from Iraq
Excerpt: Due to the variety of interests that it represents, the Iraqi government was unable to devise a formula that would allow an American military presence after January 2012. It refused to grant legal immunity to US forces, even though Iraqi military leaders supported a continued US presence in order for Iraq to remain on its feet. Over the past weekend both the US and Iraqi heads of state confirmed that the withdrawal of US troops will take place as planned, and by Christmas no American forces will remain in the country. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki can thus announce the end of the "occupation," while President Obama can boast the fulfillment of his campaign promise to withdraw all the troops from Iraq. The withdrawal of US troops will occur irrespective of progress in democratization processes, ethnic tensions, or the rise in Iranian influence. The withdrawal of US military forces since January 2009 (from the 140,000 soldiers then in Iraq) until today (now numbering 40,000 soldiers) has been largely related to President Obama's desire to keep his political commitment. The president can also cite the faltering US economy and the difficulty in financing war expenditures (the cost of keeping one US soldier in Iraq is $1 million a year). Nonetheless, the situation on the ground reveals a bleak picture: in spite of some $1 trillion in war expenditures and nearly 4,500 US soldiers killed, the Iraqi army is not enforcing its authority throughout the country, and most of the force is in charge of internal security. In addition, the loyalty of the security forces is largely a function of their tribal and ethnic affiliation, and some have become an arm of the prime minister, who still retains the defense portfolio and is using them to settle political accounts. For Iraq’s Arab neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia, the upcoming US withdrawal appears to be no less than “abandoning” Iraq and leaving the field open to Iran.

Our stimulus dollars at work
Excerpt: Every day there is another outrage with stimulus spending. If there were only a few occasional stories, it could be attributed to just the inefficiency of big government. But with so many stories, there is more than just that. From Oregon Live: WASHINGTON -- At least $7 million in federal stimulus money intended to provide jobs to unemployed Oregonians instead paid wages to 254 foreign workers, federal investigators have concluded. The money was for forest clean-up jobs in central Oregon where thousands of experienced workers were idle. When the contracts were announced in 2009, Oregon had the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation at 11.1 percent, with rates in the state's rural forest counties nearly 15 percent and higher. Even so, the contractors told federal regulators they could not find enough local workers for the jobs.

La. Gov. Bobby Jindal wins re-election
Excerpt: The 40-year-old Republican overwhelmed nine competitors in the open primary, where a candidate wins the race outright if he or she receives more than 50 percent of the vote. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Jindal had received about 66 percent of the total vote. His closest competitor, Tara Hollis, a Democrat from north Louisiana, garnered nearly 18 percent of the total vote. All of the other candidates were in single digits.

Tunisia historic elections under way
Excerpt: In Monastir, a coastal resort, a long lineup of early voters snaked the corridor of a high school, one of several voting locales in the city, the birthplace of Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia's first president, under the watchful eyes of four armed servicemen and servicewomen from the Tunisian army. Inside the voting hall, two women observers were taking notes as each voter was carefully checked by the panel overseeing the elections before being allowed to dip his or her finger in the blue ink to help foil any possible attempt to rig the elections. Representatives from the various parties were also monitoring the progress of the voting process. It was a radical change from the times when elections in Tunisia were a carefully orchestrated affair and results were known before the process started. The elections to choose the 217 members of the constituent assembly who will write the country's new constitution is the first major step towards full constitutional legitimacy in Tunisia after the downfall of its former leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14.

After Longannet, what’s next for carbon capture and storage in Scotland?
Excerpt: As ENERGY Secretary Chris Huhne made his way through a maze of corridors to the House of Commons on Wednesday night, he was acutely aware that the news he was about to deliver on a much-anticipated clean coal project in Scotland would ignite indignation north of the Border. Negotiations over ScottishPower’s carbon capture project at Longannet had gone down to the wire, and that afternoon his advisers had still been in tense eleventh-hour negotiations with the energy giant and its consortium partners, National Grid and Shell. As soon as he announced that the coalition government was pulling its £1 billion of funding for the scheme, Huhne braced himself for the backlash. He didn’t have to wait long, as energy heavyweights, environmental groups and the SNP government launched a scathing attack on the surprise decision.

ATF 'prior knowledge' of cash in pipeline for Gunwalker plot
Excerpt: In a breaking news story reported today it was revealed that the ATF--the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives--had prior knowledge that cash was in the pipeline, multi-thousands of dollars from taxpayers, for the Gunwalker scheme known as 'Operation Fast and Furious.' New information has just been disclosed from ATF whistleblowers and other sources inside the government indicating that in 2009 ATF agents on the ground who were involved in the Gunwalker scheme were aware that money from the federal government would be made available to straw purchasers, (unnamed, faceless pawns that the federal government used to buy and smuggle weapons into Mexico.) These persons used the government money supplied by taxpayers to buy large quantities of weapons from gun stores in Arizona, weapons that would be walked across the border where they would be placed into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Two key figures are central to the discovery of this new information: Hope MacAllister of the Phoenix Field Division of the ATF, and Andre Howard, owner of the Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Arizona, one of the many local gun store owners who was cooperating with the ATF in allowing straw purchases of weapons at their businesses.

Obama pick owed millions from Disney, Boeing board posts: Bryson confirmed for Cabinet spot
Excerpt: President Obama’s pick for commerce secretary, John E. Bryson, has earned millions of dollars in stock and compensation through his position as a director at the Walt Disney Co., a company that directly lobbies the department that Mr. Bryson now is poised to take over. Mr. Bryson, 68, reported $201,660 in income from Disney through a stock-option exercise, but he also disclosed other Disney assets including a deferred-compensation plan worth more than $1 million, according to a government ethics filing. He also lists Disney stocks and option assets worth at least another $750,000. The Senate voted Thursday evening 74-26 to confirm Mr. Bryson after months of delays and sharp criticism from some Republicans.

PA recalls diplomat from Canada for Twittering video link calling to destroy the Jews
Excerpt: ChargĂ© d’affaires expresses regret for "unintentional" retweet of video of Palestinian girl reciting poem deemed offensive to Jews. The Palestinian Authority has recalled a top diplomat based in Canada after she tweeted a link to a video that was considered offensive to Jews, a senior PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend. The official expressed hope that the controversy surrounding the video would not harm relations between the Palestinians and Canada. (Translation: We are sorry we let this slip; please don't cut of the money we use to buy weapons. ~Bob.)

Retreating With Our Heads Held High Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan
Excerpt: Today, President Obama declared the successful completion of his strategy to remove all American military forces from Iraq by the end of the year. He said: “[E]nsuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities” since taking office. “Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military effort in Iraq will end.” In other words, our efforts in Iraq end neither in victory nor defeat, success nor failure, but simply in retreat. The humiliation of this retreat is compounded by the dishonesty of its presentation. Today, President Obama claimed that the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq was the centerpiece of the strategy he has been pursuing there since taking office. But that was not the sole or even primary objective of the strategy he announced five weeks after becoming president. At Camp Lejeune in February 2009, to an audience of Marines, he declared: This strategy is grounded in a clear and achievable goal shared by the Iraqi people and the American people: an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant. To achieve that goal, we will work to promote an Iraqi government that is just, representative, and accountable, and that provides neither support nor safe-haven to terrorists. We will help Iraq build new ties of trade and commerce with the world. And we will forge a partnership with the people and government of Iraq that contributes to the peace and security of the region. Have any of these conditions been met?

The Public Trust – Climate
Excerpt: This piece is advisory in nature to the many state Attorneys General, Eric Holder and any attorneys that may be involved in joining any of the many suits brought under the Public Trust doctrine beginning in May 2011 through the filings engendered by way of “Our Children’s Trust” (http://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/legal-action/lawsuits).  It remains unknown at this point in time if any of these many suits will be successful, but as it is a shotgun pattern, just one would set a legal precedent. (...) The entire concept hinges upon the definition of just what the public trust is. We can rest assured that the plaintiffs have given this matter quite a bit of thought given the litigation history surrounding the use of the public trust doctrine and how it could now be applied to air instead of water and land, its traditional application. So the argument to be progressed here applies to the defense. (While there are a few minor technical problems with this (see the comments at WUWT), the author’s conclusion seems to be that the current warming (if any) is attributable to natural causes. Any lawyers among our readers may want to chime in with their comments on his legal reasoning. Ron P.)

Subsidies move from wind to water as tide turns on renewable energy
Excerpt: ENERGY companies have given warning that the Scottish Government could endanger the future of offshore wind projects by reducing subsidies. SNP energy minister Fergus Ewing unveiled the Scottish Government’s blueprint for future subsidies yesterday, which includes ending support for biomass plants, and increasing support for tidal renewables. Electricity suppliers have to provide an increasing share of power from renewable sources, and different numbers of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are awarded for different types of renewable energy generation.

Excerpt: The White House surely must have not appreciated many of the headlines coming out from the President’s second taxpayer-funded campaign bus tour of the year. Whether it was reminding taxpayers he was campaigning on their dime, lawmakers from his own party avoiding him like the plague, or getting a fact check for his spin about his Stimulus 2.0 plan, the White House must be wondering if they got any political mileage at all.

Demonstrations, Riots, & Wars
Excerpt: The demonstration turned violent when the Anarchists decided to do battle against the Communists. I know that sounds like a scene from "The Big Labowski: Donny: “Are these the Nazis, Walter?” Walter Sobchak: “No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of ...” Nihilists! I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos. But, it's what was going on in Athens yesterday. All these demonstrations are about the people who are (or claim to be) the "have nots" wanting to "have more" by taking it from those whom they believe "have too much."

Union President Testifies: ICE HQ Ordered Agents Not to Arrest Illegals--Including Fugitives
Excerpt: Chris Crane, president of a union that represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, testified in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration last week that ICE agents have been told by ICE headquarters not to arrest illegal aliens who do not have a prior criminal conviction even if they are fugitives who have been ordered deported by an immigration judge or are individuals who have illegally re-entered the United States after being deported and thus have perpetrated a felony.

U.S. Troop Withdrawal Motivated by Iraqi Insistence, Not U.S. Choice
Excerpt: President Obama’s speech formally declaring that the last 43,000 U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year was designed to mask an unpleasant truth: The troops aren’t being withdrawn because the U.S. wants them out. They’re leaving because the Iraqi government refused to let them stay. Obama campaigned on ending the war in Iraq but had instead spent the past few months trying to extend it. A 2008 security deal between Washington and Baghdad called for all American forces to leave Iraq by the end of the year, but the White House -- anxious about growing Iranian influence and Iraq’s continuing political and security challenges -- publicly and privately tried to sell the Iraqis on a troop extension. As recently as last week, the White House was trying to persuade the Iraqis to allow 2,000-3,000 troops to stay beyond the end of the year. (…) Ironically, a war launched, at least in part, to bring democracy and political freedom to Iraq will now come to an end precisely because of the free expression of those opinions. Iraqis from all backgrounds and beliefs wanted U.S. troops to leave. Come Dec. 31, for better or for worse, they’ll get their wish. (As mentioned in TOJ a few days ago, our presence will be reduced to one re-inforced company of Marines (160 Marines) guarding the embassy. While undoubtedly a diplomatic defeat for us, it’s hard to fault the Iraqi government for the short term. The Iraqis are hoping to pull off a delicate balancing act of off-setting the various forces. They will have hostile Syria to the west, hostile Iran to the east, unfriendly—though not hostile—Kurds to the north and an irritated Turkey—who just raided into Kurdish-Iraqi territory within the past week—beyond them, and with no obstacle obstructing the way for radicals from all those countries plus Saudi Arabia to cross the desert to the southwest. Add in the internal threat from al-Sadr’s militia—he’s loyal to the mullahs in Iran—and the mixture becomes almost too complex to think about. I think the best we can hope for in the short term is a neutral Iraq that tries to control its borders. The worst would be an Iranian hegemony from the western border of Afghanistan to the eastern border of Lebanon. I’m not making or taking any bets. I do hope we were smart enough to leave most of the equipment we are abandoning in the Kurdish north. The Kurds still like us a little for protecting them from Saddam. Ron P.)

Quotes
I never dared to be radical when young for fear it would make me conservative when old. --Robert Frost

The higher a man stands, the more the word vulgar becomes unintelligible to him. –John Ruskin

Excerpt: Yesterday, another shoe dropped in the chronicles of the Obama administration’s crony capitalism. A start-up electric car company with ties to Al Gore got a $529 million loan guarantee from Obama’s Department of Energy to build luxury electric cars...in Finland! Leaving aside the fact that to date only two of these $97,000 cars have been sold (one of them to a movie star), we might at least hope that this ridiculous exercise in the government picking winners minus any competitive, transparent process (Al Gore’s venture cap firm) and losers (the taxpayers subsidizing a car no one wants) would produce manufacturing jobs in the United States. Isn’t that the alleged purpose of Obama’s stimulus giveaways? It’s bad enough that we borrow money from foreign countries to give to foreign countries. Now we borrow from foreign countries to finance jobs in foreign countries. (This kind of reminds me of the $2 billion assistance President Obama provided Brazil for their off-shore energy developments, while shutting down or blocking much of our own off-shore domestic drilling. He’s in favor of energy jobs in Brazil. But in America? Not so much.) Do you think, as the President tours the country campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime, he understands that voters in Finland won’t get to decide whether or not he keeps his job in 2012, but voters in Michigan and Ohio sure will? In fact, I’m sure the millions of unemployed workers in every state will want to learn why the Obama administration gave half a billion dollars to finance “green” cars built in Finland.

From the Internet: New Word for This Year's Edition of Merriam Webster's Dictionary
Ineptocracy; (in-ept-oc-ra-cy): A system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Excerpt: The disgraced lawmakers might be gone, but their campaigns live on. The handful of members of Congress who have resigned amid scandal in recent years have maintained active campaign accounts, federal records show, and they have spent tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions on legal fees, travel, public relations consultants and, in at least one case, the salary of a family member.

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