Saturday, October 8, 2011

Political Digest for October 8, 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.

Guest Post: Tort Reform

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.

Acting ATF Director: Calm Down About Botched Fast & Furious Scandal
Excerpt: In April 2009 Barack Obama blamed violence in Mexico on US guns.
Five months later the Fast and Furious program was off and running. VIDEO: We now know that Fast and Furious led to at least one death of a US law officer and over 200 deaths in Mexico. We also know that there was extensive communication between the White House and the ATF regarding Fast and Furious and although Attorney General Holder told Congress under oath that he first learned of the program this year, documents prove that he was aware of the program at least as far back as July of 2010. Yesterday, the acting ATF director told Washington insiders to calm down about the scandal.

Energy Department Official in Charge of Solyndra Loan Program to Step Down
Excerpt: The director of the controversial loan program that cleared the way for a $535 million taxpayer guarantee to bankrupt solar firm Solyndra is stepping down, the Energy Department confirmed Thursday. Jonathan Silver, head of the Loan Programs Office, plans to join the organization
Third Way
as a "distinguished visiting fellow." The career change comes in the middle of heavy scrutiny from Congress over the department's handling of the Solyndra agreement. Documents that have emerged over the past month show officials were warned about potential problems with the company as it sought government help. But the president on Thursday defended the Energy Department's vetting. And Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement that Silver's departure was expected. (And are more departures “expected”? ~Bob.)

Pakistan commission recommends treason charges for doctor who aided in hunt for bin Laden
Excerpt: You just can't make this stuff up. The Pakistani commission that is investigating the raid that killed al Qaeda founder and emir Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad is recommending that a doctor who aided the CIA be put on trial for treason. Seriously. From The Associated Press: He is alleged to have run the phony vaccination program in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad where the al-Qaida leader hid in an effort to obtain a DNA sample from him. Afridi was detained in the days after the raid. He has no lawyer, and CIA officials have not commented. The government commission said in a statement that it was of the view that "a case of conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason" should be registered against Afridi on the basis of the evidence it had gathered. It did not elaborate. Such a charge carries the death penalty. Now, if you're a member of the Pakistani government or the military, and you wanted to dispel the accusations that you were actively complicit in sheltering bin Laden for years at a compound that is a stone's throw from Pakistan's top military academy, one of the last things you would do is accuse someone who aided in the hunt of treason.

Reid triggers ‘nuclear option’ to change Senate rules, end repeat filibusters
Excerpt: In a shocking development Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggered a rarely used procedural option informally called the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules. Reid and 50 members of his caucus voted to change Senate rules unilaterally to prevent Republicans from forcing votes on uncomfortable amendments after the chamber has voted to move to final passage of a bill. Reid’s coup passed by a vote of 51-48, leaving Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fuming. (Well, if there is a GOP Senate after 2012, this will bite them. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: The Other National Debt Crisis: How and Why Congress Must Quantify Regulation
Excerpt: When lawmakers neglect runaway federal regulation—the ongoing debt crisis notwithstanding—they disregard the biggest threat Washington poses to economic health, enterprise, and jobs. America today is, in a sense, “closed for business.” While we can take comfort in the notion that there will always be an America, current policies seem directed toward assuring that it may be located elsewhere. The United States has the largest government on Earth. Our great wealth permits that bulk much like a bigger dog can have more fleas. But the spending and regulatory burden can no longer be tolerated. … Regulatory compliance costs—the unbudgeted costs of federal paperwork, as well as environmental, financial, economic, and health and safety rules—occupy heights equivalent to total annual federal budgetary costs in the 1990s. Rules issue from over 50 departments, agencies and commissions by the thousands, and rarely does Congress clear out old rules. Agency personnel issue “guidance documents” that can escape even limited procedural scrutiny. (It is now impossible to run a business without being in violation of some regulations. This includes, as we have recently seen, kid’s lemonade stands. Eventually the system will seize up, with nothing being allowed to be done. Another part of the coming collapse. ~Bob.)

Nearly Half of U.S. Households Receive Government Benefits
Excerpt: Families were more dependent on government programs than ever last year, says the Wall Street Journal. Nearly half -- 48.5 percent -- of the population lived in a household that received some type of government benefit in the first quarter of 2010, according to Census data. Those numbers have risen since the middle of the recession when 44.4 percent lived in households receiving benefits in the third quarter of 2008. The share of people relying on government benefits has reached a historic high, in large part from the deep recession and meager recovery, but also because of the expansion of government programs over the years. Means-tested programs, designed to help the needy, accounted for the largest share of recipients last year. Some 34.2 percent of Americans lived in a household that received benefits such as food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid (the federal-state health care program for the poor). Another 14.5 percent lived in homes where someone was on Medicare (the health care program for the elderly), and nearly 16 percent lived in households receiving Social Security. High unemployment and increased reliance on government programs has also shrunk the nation's share of taxpayers. Some 46.4 percent of households will pay no federal income tax this year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That's up from 39.9 percent in 2007, the year the recession began. (Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -Frederic Bastiat, French Economist,1801-1850)

Important: Debt: The Shame of Cities and States
If you don’t believe my book, The Coming Collapse of the American Republic, tell me where the states are to get the $3.5 Trillion+ to redeem these pledges? ~Bob. A century ago, America’s states and cities faced a crisis in government. A number of commonwealths — California, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Illinois conspicuous among them — as well as cities across the land labored under the heavy weight of costly and corrupt misrule. This state of affairs was generally blamed on an unholy triple alliance of large corporations (“the trusts”) and other business interests, party bosses and machines, and compliant legislators and officials. Lincoln Steffens, the most prominent muckraking journalist of the day, scathingly described the results in influential magazine articles, gathered together in his 1906 books The Shame of the Cities and The Struggle for Self-Government. Since then the clock of time has completed a circuit of 100 years and more, and the nation’s states and municipalities again face a crisis in government. A number of commonwealths — yes, California, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Illinois still conspicuous among them — as well as a number of counties and cities, labor under a heavy weight of debt, deficits, and future obligations. This state of affairs is generally blamed on an Iron Triangle of public employee unions, compliant governors and legislators, and a complaisant electorate. The current crisis is the product not of contracts, graft, and patronage — the mother’s milk of early-20th-century state and local politics — but of sweetheart salary, pension, and health insurance deals secured by public employee unions: the mother’s milk of early-21st-century politics. … The result was a coral-like growth of ever-sweeter employment, health care, and pension provisions, extracted from acquiescent governors and legislators in return for financial support and union members helping in elections. Some 88 percent of public sector workers still had defined benefit pensions in the first decade of the 21st century, compared to about eighteen percent in the private sector. By 2008 there was an estimated $3.35 trillion gap between the states’ resources and their pension and health care commitments. Many towns, cities, and school districts were committed to wages and benefits consuming 70 to 80 percent of their budgets. The complexity of the system, along with popular and media disinterest, contributed to the growing overhang. Then the financial collapse of late 2008 and the consequent recession turned a future threat into a current crisis.

Government's Good Intentions Can Have Negative Consequences
Excerpt: The federal government consumes about a quarter of the United States' gross domestic product and owns more real estate, uses more energy and has more cars than any other entity. The government's size allows it to invest in projects on a scale that private entities cannot. That means decisions the federal government undertakes have enormous impacts -- which means enormous damage when the government makes spending choices that are bad for the environment. While government projects that marginally benefit environmental protection efforts are touted as victories for the green movement, substantial government spending on wasteful and environmentally destructive policies undoes much of this progress, say Eli Lehrer, vice president of the Heartland Institute, and Ben Schreiber, a climate and energy tax analyst at Friends of the Earth. Consider: The $50 billion-plus five-year tab for ethanol subsidies has brought millions of acres of previously wild land under cultivation, increased the use of chemical fertilizers and wasted billions of gallons of water. More than $8 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantees for coal provide enormous taxpayer support for the dirtiest of all widely used fuels. Oil interests, subsidized mainly via huge tax benefits like an "intangible drilling cost" tax advantage, reduce Treasury revenue by almost $20 billion a decade. While these are some of the larger, government-funded projects that are accelerating the destruction of the environment, there are still dozens of others: tax credits for consumers to buy inefficient vehicles, wasted fuel for unnecessary plane flights, direct crop subsidies that encourage deforestation, etc. And with $380 billion in spending of this kind scheduled for the next five years, changing this trend does not appear to be a goal for the near future. Without doubt, at least a few of these policies were intended to be eco-friendly. However, planning macroeconomic policy often limits the ability to foresee all the potential side effects, such as adverse consumer reactions or exploitative business decisions. For this reason, government ought to take a step back from its environmentally-motivated market intervention and stick to policies that are broader and less pervasive: funding for basic public research, maintenance of refuges and parks, etc.

Funds for Small Businesses Used to Repay Bank Bailout
Gee, why aren’t small businesses hiring? ~Bob. Excerpt: More than half of $4 billion in federal funds disbursed this year to spur small-business lending by community banks was used to repay bailout funds that the banks received under the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), says the Wall Street Journal. The Small Business Lending Fund was meant to raise capital at smaller banks, which tend to lend more heavily to small businesses, in the hopes of jumpstarting growth and employment. But instead of directly lending to small businesses, many of the banks used the money to rid themselves of higher cost TARP debt and tougher restrictions. Of 332 banks that received cash through the lending fund, 137 used at least a portion -- totaling $2.2 billion -- to pay off their TARP obligations. The fund began lending to small banks three months ago, and the program concluded last week. Of the total $30 billion available in the fund, only $4 billion in loans to banks were approved. Under the fund's regulations, the banks weren't prohibited from using the money to pay back TARP debt. But the two programs were designed to be separate, a Treasury Department spokeswoman said, adding that unless the banks increased their small-business lending, they wouldn't enjoy loan rates lower than what they were paying for TARP money.

Palestinians Pursue Backdoor Statehood Strategy
Excerpt: With a bid for full recognition of statehood still sitting in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the UN's Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) gave its initial approval to recognize Palestine as a member state. The move is an attempt to bypass a UNSC veto of Palestinian statehood by the United States, but will also result in an end in American aid to UNESCO. Against the will of the United States and several European countries, UNESCO's 58-nation executive board approved recognition of Palestine as a full-fledged member of the group. The recognition also automatically grants acknowledgment of a Palestinian state, as a necessary criterion for membership in UNESCO. In effect, Wednesday's move would mean that Palestine would be deemed a state in some of the UN's affiliate organizations, without any formal recognition by the UN's governing body.

It’s Coming: 'Time to kill the wealthy'
The civility of the Left. Obama’s attack on “millionaires” is inciting murder. Entitlement riots are coming. Are you armed? ~Bob. Several influential New York state lawmakers have received threatening mails saying it is “time to kill the wealthy” if they don’t renew the state’s tax surcharge on millionaires, according to reports. “It’s time to tax the millionaires!” reads the email, according to WTEN in Albany. “If you don’t, I’m going to pay a visit with my carbine to one of those tech companies you are so proud of and shoot every spoiled Ivy League [expletive] I can find.” State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos reportedly received the email, as did State Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari. The governor’s office did not tell the New York Daily News whether the governor received the email. The email, with the threatening subject line of, “time to kill the wealthy,” was detailed and disturbing. “How hard is it for us to stake out one of the obvious access roads to some tech company, tail an employee home and toss a liquor bottle full of flaming gasoline through their nice picture window into their cute house,” wrote the author of the email. … Remember when Sarah Palin’s innocuous and irrelevant map became a bloody shirt when an apolitical nutcase went on a shooting rampage? Well, forget about that. Put it out of your mind. Now that President Obama has been waging sustained rhetorical war on the rich to get himself re-elected at any cost, the media isn’t going to make the connection between his words, those of leftists like Roseanne Barr, and these email threats and whatever might follow.

Excerpt: A lot of liberal bloggers are drooling over the We Are the 99 Percent blog that is associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. I actually find the blog pretty annoying. Partly that’s because it is so heavy on complaints from people with college (and even postgraduate) degrees, a group that certainly is not bearing the brunt of the economic downturn. But the bigger problem is that the blog is based on a premise that is unhealthy not just for the left but for our political discourse as a whole. The 99th percentile of Americans, by income, starts with households earning incomes of $593,000. The “We Are the 99 percent” branding puts somebody making $500,000 per year on the oppressed-and-downtrodden side of the wage divide. Indeed, “99 percent” is so expansive a designation that it includes most of the bankers working on Wall Street.

Go Occupy Yourselves, My Darlings
Excerpt: Then came Herman Cain. He said, very simply, "If you are a college graduate and you can't get a job, you shouldn't blame Wall Street. You shouldn't blame the banks. You should blame yourself." A Daniel come to judgment. The sun suddenly came out. The next step, I am sure, by the way, for the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd is for Anderson Cooper, Bill Maher, and Jon Stewart, the trifecta of conventional wisdom's failed liberalism, to come down to Wall Street and join the masses in demanding more of our tax money so they can all be supported as novelists and movie directors. You poor kids. You are basically asking to be supported and taken care of by Mommy and Daddy. Wake up, kids. Wall Street is you, with all of your wants and needs and wishes, only they have the balls to go out and work for it. Sometimes they are crooks and sometimes they are fools -- but you know what? So are all of us. Listen to Mr. Cain. Shut up and get to work.

Obama To Issue Executive Order On Classified Info, After WikiLeaks
Excerpt: By executive order, President Obama will instruct federal agencies today to better safeguard their classified secrets, to set up internal audit systems, and to make sure that reluctance to share critical intelligence in the aftermath of the WikiLeaks exposure does not hamper collaboration across agencies. The so-called "WikiLeaks" executive order has been long awaited by the national security establishment and by the privacy and civil liberties communities. It was provided by the White House to National Journal. The order creates a government-wide steering committee to create and assess information sharing policies across the government, as well as a mechanism to determine whether internal auditing procedures work properly. (…) A new Insider Threat Task Force led by the Attorney General will develop a government-wide strategy to see whether agencies that handle classified information can weed out the malcontents and people whose behavior suggests they cannot handle sensitive information appropriately. The result will be a beefing up of federal counter-intelligence programs. (The article says this information was released, not leaked. This is relatively fast work, I suppose, since it has only taken 17 months since WikiLeaks released the first installment of the 250,000+ cables they acquired from Manning at the end of May, 2010. Since the weeding out of “malcontents and behavior problems” who can’t handle sensitive information properly used to be done by exhaustive investigation (FBI, DIA, NIS, Army G-2) BEFORE granting a security clearance to anyone, and every person cleared took an oath to abide by those terms, the real question is enforcement. Prior to Bradley Manning, when was the last time you heard of anyone being arrested for disclosure of classified material? 1980s? 1990s? Why is it that so many news reports have references to “unnamed sources” or “persons speaking without authorization?” Yes, it IS the same principle. Why would anyone protect your secrets if you won’t protect theirs? Why aren’t these leakers caught and punished? Until we see people starting to go to jail for long periods for violating security (or otherwise punished severely), sent by administrations from all parties, this will only get worse. And, yes, classification needs to apply to elected officials and non-elected “journalists,” too. The Constitution is not a suicide pact; neither are the Amendments to it. Nations don’t merely want secrets, they NEED them. At some point, the populace must trust the government. Or the populace must overthrow and replace that government if they truly believe they can’t trust it. Ron P.)

Still Jobless After All These Years
Excerpt: Yesterday at the White House, President Barack Obama faced the media to once again plug the American Jobs Act--his plan for more stimulus spending, paid for with even more taxes on America's job creators. And this morning, not a day later, America received a reminder of why a continuation of the President's tried-and-failed policies is not a prescription for success: In September, the U.S. unemployment rate held steady at a dismal 9.1 percent with 14 million Americans still out of work. About 103,000 jobs were added, but 45,000 of those were simply Verizon strikers returning to work, and the number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) increased by 208,000. For those keeping score, the unemployment rate has hovered around 9 percent for all of 2011, was over 9 percent for all of 2010 and most of 2009, and will remain above 8 percent until 2014 according to the Congressional Budget Office (and that's a generous estimate that didn't account for the most recent economic slowdown). If you demand more and want to see full employment in America (about 5 percent unemployment), you'll have to wait until 2018, and that will happen only if employers regain their confidence and begin hiring at 176,000 jobs per month--much higher than the rate seen in September and, for that matter, all year.

Meet Moe the Millionaire: He worked hard and invested in his friends. Now the president wants to raise his taxes.
Excerpt: This is the brief story of Moe the Millionaire, a good friend of Joe the Plumber. Moe grew up with a decent public-school education and then went to a community college for two years, where he obtained a degree. Times were pretty good when he graduated, and Moe got a starting job in sales and marketing with a specialty insurance company, at around $12,000 per year. Demonstrating a strong work ethic and performing well in his assignments, Moe was admired by his superiors, who duly rewarded him with promotions and annual pay raises. He got no stock options, but he eventually participated in the bonus pool as a member of non-executive management. He was blessed with a good family and many friends, some of whom were entrepreneurial types who periodically needed seed money to start a small business and expand it. Moe, among others, provided capital contributions for a "share of the business." His first up-front investment was for $2,000, but as his pals succeeded he increased his shares, eventually investing $100,000 over the years.

Currency Cretinism
What is Mitt Romney doing siding with Chuck Schumer in his protectionist pandering against China and the American consumer? When the front-running Republican presidential hopeful agrees with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on an economic policy, you know we have a problem. Unfortunately, that's the situation we find with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney agreeing, at least in principle, with legislation proposed by Schumer and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that threatens China with trade tariffs if it does not devalue its currency, the yuan. Indeed, last month a Wall Street Journal blog wondered aloud whether the legislation should be termed the "Schumer-Brown-Romney Bill." To be sure, Romney has not said that he supports this bill, but his "Believe in America" economic plan is quite specific: In a section entitled "Five Executive Orders for Day One," Romney tells us that he will "[d]irect the Department of the Treasury to list China as a currency manipulator in its biannual report and direct the Department of Commerce to assess countervailing duties on Chinese imports if China does not quickly move to float its currency." And nearly half of the "Trade Policy" section of Romney's plan comes under the heading of "Confronting China."

The Big Jobs Bill Lie: The president claims economists heartily endorse his jobs bill, predicting it will boost growth by 2% and add 1.9 million jobs. That would be news to most economists.
Excerpt: How does he "know" this? Well, he said at Friday's news conference, that's based on a review of his plan by "independent economists." He even challenged Republicans to have their own plan assessed by the same experts to see how theirs would perform. “I see some smirks in the audience because you know that it's not going to be real robust," he said, commenting on the reaction from reporters. Rather than smirking, those reporters should take the time to look at what economists have actually said about Obama's plan. Bloomberg surveyed 34 economists last week about Obama's jobs bill and found that the median GDP growth they projected was just 0.6%. In fact, just two of the 34 claimed the plan would grow the economy by the 2% Obama cited. In contrast, five said it would produce zero growth. Another three predicted that much of the modest gains in 2012 would be canceled out by slower growth it caused in 2013.

Wall Street’s winter
Excerpt: Tick-tock. Thanks to Washington’s support for big banks, New York City has been a cocoon of prosperity compared to the rest of the nation over the last three years.
But banks can’t stay on the dole forever -- and the city’s done nothing in the 37 months since Lehman Bros. collapsed to prepare for a leaner Wall Street. Without endless financial-industry profits, New York can’t afford to make good on the promises it’s made to workers and pick up the trash and keep criminals off streets. From 1997 to 2007, the city’s tax collections nearly doubled, from $20.4 billion to $38.6 billion, growth nearly three times the inflation rate. Why? The financial industry was making record profits from debt and derivatives.

Westboro announces protest of Steve Jobs’ funeral–with an iPhone
Excerpt: Westboro Baptist Church--best known for its reviled anti-gay protests of American soldiers' funerals--announced last night on Twitter that its members will be picketing the funeral of Apple founder Steve Jobs. "He had a huge platform; gave God no glory & taught sin," Westboro leader Margie Phelps tweeted--from her iPhone. Let's hope that Phelps has managed to resist her own iPhone's magical powers to "teach sin."

Important: IMF advisor says we face a Worldwide Banking Meltdown
Excerpt: "If they cannot address [the European financial crisis] in a credible way I believe within perhaps two to three weeks we will have a meltdown in sovereign debt, which will produce a meltdown across the European banking system. We're not just talking about a relatively small Belgian bank, we're talking about the largest banks in the world, the largest banks in Germany, the largest banks in France. That will spread to the United Kingdom ... it will spread everywhere because the global financial system is so interconnected. ... All those banks are counterparties to every significant bank in the United States, and in Britain, and in Japan, and around the world. This would be a crisis that would be ... more serious than the crisis in 2008."

On the Campaign Trail: A Lot of Fuss Over a Rock
From The Patriot Post
The Washington Post over the weekend published a shameless hit piece on Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is among the frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination. The 3,000-word story focused on a rock at a West Texas hunting camp the Perry family once leased in the early 1980s. On the rock was painted the word "N-ggerhead," which the newspaper apparently felt was a matter of some consequence. The graffiti was in place before the Perrys came along, and, as Perry explained, "My mother and father went to the lease and painted the rock in either 1983 or 1984. This occurred after I paid a visit to the property with a friend and saw the rock with the offensive word. After my visit I called my folks and mentioned it to them, and they painted it over during their next visit." End of story, right? Nope. The Post spent the next 2,500 words interviewing random people in Texas who saw the rock (though they couldn't recall when), reviewing Perry's record on race (which even Democrats in Texas don't dispute is stellar), and exploring the etymology of the word in question. The story ominously concluded, "In the photos [recently viewed by the Post], it was to the left of the gate. It was laid down flat. The exposed face was brushed clean of dirt. White paint, dried drippings visible, covered a word across the surface. An N and two G's were faintly visible." Other media outlets used the story to spread the narrative that conservatives are racist. No doubt Perry has stumbled of late on his own; once the Republican frontrunner, he's now running second in most polls behind Mitt Romney, and Herman Cain is fast on his heels. However, he outperformed Romney in third-quarter fundraising with $17 million, despite not entering the race until midway through the quarter. We don't think the Post story will hurt Perry with conservatives, but it's no less shameful that the media will run into the ground this non-story about a Republican while completely ignoring the far more inflammatory story of Barack Obama's pastor of 20 years, the racist and hate-spewing Jeremiah Wright.

From the Left: Obama the Black Panther?
From The Patriot Post
To be sure, this isn't nearly as important as that rock in West Texas, but photographs have surfaced of Barack Obama sharing a podium and marching with prominent members of the New Black Panther Party during a March 2007 event in Selma, Alabama. Panther National Chief Malik Zulu Shabazz is one of the men identified in the photos. Shabazz was one of the defendants in the notorious Philadelphia voter intimidation case in 2008, which the Department of Justice inexplicably dropped shortly after Obama took office in 2009. Also present at the 2007 event was Panther Minister of War Najee Muhammed, an Obama supporter who called for the murder of Georgia police officers with AK-47s. The photographs were initially going to appear in a new book by J. Christian Adams, the Justice Department official who blew the lid on the Obama administration's handling of the Philadelphia case. The photographer later reversed himself and refused to allow the publisher permission to use the photos, but captured them before they were removed from the Web altogether. Obama's rubbing elbows with this unsavory racist lot received zero media attention during the 2008 campaign or since, and the White House has refused to clarify why Shabazz turned up on the 2009 White House visitor logs. The media were grossly negligent in vetting candidate Obama and it has continued a double standard in reporting on Democrats versus Republicans.

"The real question for everyone is: Are you better off than you were $4 trillion ago?" --Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)

Second Amendment: Guns Up, Crime Down
From The Patriot Post
Since the Supreme Court struck down Chicago's draconian handgun ban last year, the city's violent crime rate has plummeted. This is contrary to the warnings of then-mayor Richard Daley, who said Chicago would "go back to the Old West -- you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle it in the streets." Yet according to John Lott, who has written extensively on the subject on guns and crime, "In the first six months of this year, there were 14 percent fewer murders in Chicago compared to the first six months of last year -- when owning handguns was illegal. It is the largest drop in Chicago's murder rate since the handgun ban went into effect in 1982." That success comes in spite of the fact that just 2,144 people had registered guns in Chicago as of May. The city made the process prohibitively cumbersome and expensive, as usual, meaning it is the poor -- who are the most likely victims of crime -- that cannot defend themselves. Chicago isn't alone, either. Consider Washington, DC, after the Supreme Court's Heller ruling affirmed an individual right to own guns. Lott writes, "If you compare the first six months of this year to the first six months of 2008, the same time immediately preceding the Supreme Court's late June 'Heller' decision, murders have now fallen by 34 percent." Don't expect the Left to concede the point, however. Gun grabbers have yet to meet a fact they couldn't twist or ignore for the purpose of taking away our Second Amendment rights.

Abbas Could Be Next Domino to Fall
Excerpt: Since his United Nations speech last month demanding Palestinian statehood, Western media accounts have highlighted the hero's welcome received by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas when he returned to the West Bank. Often overlooked in press coverage of the issue is the problem of corruption in Abbas' PA, including allegations of nepotism, possible theft of U.S. aid dollars, and a scheme that allows Hamas officials in Gaza to illicitly pocket money from electricity ratepayers. Not to mention the fact that two U.S. government agencies are helping support a Palestinian investment fund controlled in part by that terrorist organization. At a rally in Ramallah several days after the U.N. ploy, Abbas (whose PA receives close to $600 million a year in U.S. aid) sought to link his demand for recognition of a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) with those of the "Arab Spring" — the wave of revolutions this year against autocratic regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Pat Condell: The great Palestinian lie
Video: "This is not about territory, and it certainly isn't about justice or human rights, because Arab societies don't know the meaning of those words. It's about Jew-hatred, as mandated by the Qur'an and as preached in the mosques and taught to the children in Arab countries day in and day out, generation after poisoned generation."

Al-Azhar University deputy rector: "Jihad has become an individual duty incumbent upon each and every one of us," and our enemies are "the offspring of pigs and apes"
Excerpt: Al-Azhar University is the most prestigious institution in all of Sunni Islam. Not long after 9/11, the New York Times hailed it as moderate. In Islamic theology, jihad warfare is fard kifaya, an obligation of the community as a whole but not of every individual believer. Jihad becomes fard ayn, obligatory on every individual Muslim to aid in some way, when a Muslim land is attacked. … Muhammad Ashur: I say to all my brothers and sisters: Jihad has become an individual duty incumbent upon each and every one of us, because our enemies have grown arrogant and have persisted in their great tyranny. In an even uglier display, they publicly declare their support and defense of injustice, even though they boast that they denounce any injustice and that they are the ones who legislate human rights. But the rights of what human are they defending and supporting? They support the unjust oppressors, the offspring of pigs and apes.

Why Marco Rubio is the Right Candidate... Now!
I would vote for Rubio over anyone now running. ~Bob. Excerpt: Senator Marco Rubio, young as he is, is the right candidate to win the White House in 2012 and I’ll tell you why: Rubio can unite establishment Republicans, Conservative Republicans and Tea-Partiers. While the first category is taken aback by his conservatism, they recognize the power of his person. And they are willing to tolerate his positions if they are convinced he can win. Conservatives, on the other hand, are a tougher bunch. They require their candidate to have character…not simply to have cast good votes on core issues, but to hold their positions with passion. Marco Rubio passes this test. Tea Partiers are purportedly concerned with financial issues only. No one articulates the current crisis like Rubio. And underneath the Tea Party platform veneer are a strong majority of participants whose hearts also beat fast at the notion of a champion on the moral issues of our day. Rubio is that. Rubio has the combination of elements Republican voters so long for: character, passion, conviction, and the ability to communicate clearly with all three.

The National Anthem by kids
Need them for the Super Bowl instead of a celeb who wrecks it. ~Bob.

Gunwalker: Gunning Down the ‘Bush Did It, Too’ Lie
Excerpt: When Associated Press reporter Pete Yost uncritically repeated claims by anonymous Department of Justice officials that the Bush-era Operation Wide Receiver was “the same tactic” used by the Obama Justice Department in Operation Fast and Furious and other operations, I called him out, knowing the claim was incorrect. A later article by Sharyl Attkisson of CBSNews found a dealer who participated in Wide Receiver, and acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones (himself possibly implicated in Gunwalker) agreed that gun-walking had occurred while President Bush was in office. Yet something felt wrong, but I couldn’t recall the information I had previously heard to rebut the claim. Luckily a reader had a better memory than I, and led me to the June 15 article by Jim Shepherd in The Outdoor Wire. Shepherd’s piece reveals just how different the botched sting of Wide Receiver was from the intentionally criminal Fast and Furious:

Chastizing Colmes, Cain and Coulter
Excerpt: I am not a wealthy person. If I were, I would pay as little in income taxes as I could possibly get away with. I would hire excellent accountants to assist me in this endeavor. For one thing, I’d know that I was already paying far too much in a nation in which nearly half the people don’t pay anything. For another, I would regard it as something of a sacred mission to make sure that the federal government didn’t get its hands on any more of my money than I could help, in the same way that I wouldn’t finance a drug addict if I happened to be related to one. And unlike all those various goons and chiselers I despise in Washington, I might actually like my relative.

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ChelseaGrunwald Chelsea
You know how polar bears are supposed to be endangered? I'm like one of those, only Catholic and conservative and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We Shouldn’t Ignore the Danger Of Occupy Wall Street
Excerpt: Occupy Wall Street is growing with protests across the country. We on the right have had fun making fun of the protesters protesting against capitalism and corporatism while using all the corporate products that we all enjoy, but I think it’s time we stopped making fun of them. Because whether you think they are silly in their demands, or radical in their speech, or that you don’t think that most even know what they are protesting, they can cause a lot of damage to our economy. The following from NRO is very telling. Brian Phillips is the head of communications for the NYC General Assembly, the group primarily responsible for occupying Wall Street. I learned about him while listening to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. According to NPR, Phillips is “an ex-Marine with a bachelor’s in computer science. Today he is wearing a sock on his head.” “My political goal,” Phillips says, “is to overthrow the government.” This isn’t some nutjob carrying a sign on Wall Street. This is their communications director. Now, you may shrug this off. But as this protest grows with young people without jobs and with crushing student loan debt, we will have the kind of chaos that Europe has experienced.

Poll finds 47 percent of Americans can't name a single GOP candidate
Excerpt: For political junkies following every step of the GOP nominating process, the Republican field seems old hat — so much so that earlier this week, some conservatives were pushing New Jersey governor Chris Christie to enter the race in hopes of injecting new life. But a new poll from the Pew Research Center says that many Americans have no idea who the future Republican nominee will be — or who is even running. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed could not name a single candidate for the GOP nomination, and no candidate was identified by more than 30 percent of those polled. Respondents were asked to name the candidates in the Republican field. Twenty-eight percent identified Rick Perry, 27 percent named Mitt Romney and 15 percent identified Michele Bachmann. No other candidate broke double-digits. (“A Republic—if you can keep it.” -- Ben Franklin. I’m sure it makes me a monster in many eyes, but if the right to vote was tied to a simple, easy civics and history test, we would not now be in danger of losing the Republic. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: Sorting Out the ‘Extremists’: The difference between Wall Street protestors and the Tea Party
Excerpt: Brian Phillips is the head of communications for the NYC General Assembly, the group primarily responsible for occupying Wall Street. I learned about him while listening to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. According to NPR, Phillips is “an ex-Marine with a bachelor’s in computer science. Today he is wearing a sock on his head.” “My political goal,” Phillips says, “is to overthrow the government.” Note: That’s not some random nut job pulled from his Lyndon LaRouche desk or tricked-out refrigerator box/time machine. That’s the communications director for the whole shebang, and his goal is to overthrow the government. Now, he’s not advocating violence or dictatorship. No, he just wants the government to work on the same non-hierarchical, consensus-based, extremely deliberative form of direct democracy that they’re using down in Liberty Plaza. How that would work for some 300 million Americans remains a bit of a mystery. An even bigger mystery is what these people want. There are many demands floating around, but the only official list isn’t of demands at all but of wide-ranging grievances. Grievances about the “system,” if not about carbon-based life itself, are the one unifying sentiment to this movement. (As a Marine Veteran, I usually object to the term “ex-Marine.” But in this case, it seems fitting. The Corps’ values don’t take 100% of the time. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: But ultimately, the protesters ask us to ponder the very nature of compensation: Why does a municipal worker make $30,000 a year when Matt Damon and Johnny Depp manage to extort $20 million for a month’s work — money that we pay for in higher ticket and download prices? Why are their unionized camera and sound crews left to split up the crumbs? Did John Kerry really need a multimillion-dollar custom-made sailboat, docked out of state to avoid the people’s taxes? Did Al Gore need a yacht, a fourth home, a private jet trip? Did Michael Moore really have to sue for an extra million or two to add to his multimillion-dollar horde? Did John “Two Americas” Edwards really need a 4,000 sq. ft. “John’s Room” when millions do not have a 400 sq. ft. living space? These are the sorts of questions that are finally airing at these protests. 

Meet America‘s ’53%’ – And They Have a Message for the ‘99%’ Protesters
Excerpt: Meet The 53%. Who are they? The term 53% refers to the people who are actually paying taxes for themselves and the rest of the country. The 53% is a group of responsible young people organizing across the country. However, this group is not camping out in parks around the country and demanding the entire capitalist system be destroyed. These men and women have jobs (most of them work at more than one job in order to make ends meet), but they are talking about attending the Minneapolis Occupy Wall St. protest scheduled for today – Friday, October 7th.

WaPo Fact Checker: The president’s news conference
Excerpt: In his news conference Thursday, President Obama unfortunately repeated a couple of stale talking points for which he had previously received Pinocchios. “It is now up to all the senators, and hopefully all the members of the House, to explain to their constituencies why they would be opposed to common-sense ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past. . . . My expectation and hope is that everybody will vote for this jobs bill because it reflects those ideas that traditionally have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans.” As we wrote before, the truth is that Republicans have not supported many of the tax-revenue ideas at all — and on the spending side, key proposals have earned few Republican votes in the past. This claim was worth two Pinocchios, and Obama earns it again.

Must read: I Love My Job, But It Made Me Poorer
This is the face of poverty and destitution in America. No wonder they are rebelling. It will make your heart bleed. ~Bob. Excerpt: Like so many teenagers, I believed in the "American Dream," that I could move to New York from the Midwest and become an artist. I would achieve both fame and success, and I would never have to think about money. The first half was true. I made art and lived activism, and I achieved amazing amounts of success that I feel incredibly proud of. The second half, not so much. I have been able to live well, eat well, invest in my arts and make my own schedule, but I forgot to save money and think about my future. This summer I tried to rent an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The process sent me into an emotional crisis and awakened me into a whole new realization of our economy, the music industry at large and, more specifically, what it means to be a queer artist in 2011. I spent days trolling around Williamsburg, looking at shitty apartments with cockroaches lining the doorways, fighting neighbors, rats in the ceiling, bedbugs infesting the linoleum floors, fifth-floor walk-ups and cat-pee-soaked carpets. The rent was exorbitant, availability was scarce, and I was turned down by two different landlords for being "freelance." To be honest, I don't blame them. Not only am I freelance, but I'm lesbian freelance. Double whammy. What was the reason they turned me down? Because it was easier to rent to a rich, trust-fund, straight-guy banker who wants to live in the coolest borough in the world? Because when he met me he saw a tattooed gender outlaw who makes "queer electronic punk music" and isn't sure when the next check is going to come in? Yeah, I don't blame him. He doesn't give a shit about how kids email me all the time thanking me for keeping them from committing suicide. It's not part of his capitalist business practice.

Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1751
Pop quiz. Put your hand up if you know what the battle of Lepanto was and why it was important. Damn. And my readers are an educated bunch. Imagine asking this of those who aren’t educated, like, say, college seniors. But I’ve long loved Chesterton’s poem on the subject, so have an edge. ~Bob.

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