Friday, November 11, 2011

Political Digest for November 11, 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. In some cases I post things sent to me by readers I might not have posted on my own, to get ideas circulating.

November 11 is Veterans’ Day. A veteran is a person who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check payable to the Republic, good for any amount including life itself. Thank your friends and relatives who served.

Pulled a few items last night to post. Probably last digest until Monday or Tuesday, due to schedule. Sorry. ~Bob.

Free PDF Copy of The Coming Collapse of the American Republic.

Deadly ‘oops’ that doomed Rick Perry by John Podhoretz
Excerpt: I have three points to make about last night’s Republican presidential debate. Herman Cain is remarkably unflustered by his troubles. Mitt Romney remains the smoothest-talking Republican in decades. And the third is . . . um . . . wait . . .um . . .I know this . . . I prepped for it . . . Cain, Romney . . . oops. The Titanic-like campaign of Texas Gov. Rick Perry crashed into the iceberg of his own brain at 9:18 EST last night. Perry, who entered the race as an immediate frontrunner in August and then sank like a stone after a series of wretched debate performances, outdid himself with the most embarrassing single televised minute any important American politician has ever inflicted upon himself. Ever. In history. If you didn’t watch it last night, you’ll see it today on television. Or someone will send you a YouTube link. A transcript will not do it justice -- you have to witness it to experience the agony, which was so extreme his fellow candidates desperately tried to come to his rescue. (It’s increasingly painful to imagine Perry in a debate with Obama. ~Bob.)

A little respect, please

The Californication of Maryland
Excerpt: Maryland basketball fans of a certain vintage will remember former coach Lefty Driesell’s famous promise to “make Maryland the UCLA of the East.” That is, Driesell wanted to turn the Maryland’s basketball program into an east coast version of legendary coach John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins who dominated that era of college basketball. Driesell never came close, but unfortunately, Maryland’s Democratic one-party rulers have spent the last few decades attempting to make Maryland the California of the east. Reading Joel Kotkin’s latest article in City Journal, “The Golden State’s War on Itself” Marylanders should be afraid, very afraid of the direction Democrats have taken the Free State. Like Maryland, California is a one-party state dominated by Democrats beholden to public sector unions and environmentalists. According to Kotkin this brand of progressivism has sacked the private sector like ravaging Huns, and created “…two separate California realities: a lucrative one for the wealthy and for government workers, who are largely insulated from economic decline; and a grim one for the private-sector middle and working classes, who are fleeing the state.” (It is the Progressives war on the Productive. It’s not that they want to destroy the productive, nor did the barbarians want to destroy Rome. They wanted to take what the Romans had so they could use it for their purposes. That Rome was destroyed was a byproduct. As will be the destruction of our Republic. ~Bob.)

The Golden State’s War on Itself: How politicians turned the California Dream into a nightmare
Excerpt: California has long been a destination for those seeking a better place to live. For most of its history, the state enacted sensible policies that created one of the wealthiest and most innovative economies in human history. California realized the American dream but better, fostering a huge middle class that, for the most part, owned their homes, sent their kids to public schools, and found meaningful work connected to the state’s amazingly diverse, innovative economy. Recently, though, the dream has been evaporating. Between 2003 and 2007, California state and local government spending grew 31 percent, even as the state’s population grew just 5 percent. The overall tax burden as a percentage of state income, once middling among the states, has risen to the sixth-highest in the nation, says the Tax Foundation. Since 1990, according to an analysis by California Lutheran University, the state’s share of overall U.S. employment has dropped a remarkable 10 percent. When the state economy has done well, it has usually been the result of asset inflation—first during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, and then during the housing boom, which was responsible for nearly half of all jobs created earlier in this decade. Since the financial crisis began in 2008, the state has fared even worse. Last year, California personal income fell 2.5 percent, the first such fall since the Great Depression and well below the 1.7 percent drop for the rest of the country. Unemployment may be starting to ebb nationwide, but not in California, where it approaches 13 percent, among the highest rates in the nation. Between 2008 and 2009, not one of California’s biggest cities outperformed such traditional laggards as New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia in employment growth, and four cities—Los Angeles, Oakland, Santa Ana, and San Bernardino–Riverside—sit very close to the bottom among the nation’s largest metro areas, just slightly ahead of basket cases like Detroit. Long a global exemplar, California is in danger of becoming, as historian Kevin Starr has warned, a “failed state.”

Bah, humbug! Obama administration to 'rethink' Christmas Tree fee
Excerpt: This didn’t take long. Jake Tapper reports that the Obama administration will, er, rethink its Christmas tree “fee” and promotion board: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation and revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees, sources tell ABC News. The fee, requested by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2009, was first announced in the Federal Registry yesterday and has generated criticism of President Obama from conservative media outlets. The well-trafficked Drudge Report is leading with the story, linking to a blog by David Addington, a former top aide to then-Vice President David Addington, at the conservative Heritage Foundation assailing the president thus: “The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do? And, by the way, the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government.”

The End of FARC? Why the killing of Columbian insurgency's leader is a real chance for peace
Excerpt: Guillermo León Sáenz, alias "Alfonso Cano," the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was shot and killed on Nov. 4 during Operation Odiseo, a joint air force-army raid that was triggered after police intelligence traced Cano's location through an intercepted phone call. Following this blow to the already weakened FARC, Colombia now faces the best opportunity in decades to end Latin America's longest and most intractable conflict.

"The Somali Women Attacked Me More Than The Men Did": Female Genital Mutilation
Excerpt: Miré finally has had her mutilation surgically reversed and embarks on a fearless course of sex therapy and psychotherapy. In all innocence, she asks questions that would make the proverbial sailor blush. And she writes about it all. Soraya has raised funding in order to go on her book tour. She wants to promote the issues raised by her book, the role that women play in enforcing this and other atrocities such as arranged child marriage and arranged cousin marriage — all routinely practiced in the African and Muslim world. Soraya shrinks from nothing. She chose to begin her book tour in Minneapolis where there is the largest concentration of Somalis in America. “The Somali women attacked me more than the men did,” she tells me: They said I was against Islam, that I was a poor representative for Somalia. More Somali men, especially young men, are supporting what I’m saying than the women are. Can you believe it?

Why Steve Jobs Biography Was His Final Stroke Of Genius
Excerpt: At various times throughout the book, we see Isaacson give Jobs the opportunity to respond to accusations made or opinions expressed. Perhaps at some point — when Jobs went from being “skittish” to “encouraging” — Jobs realized that, if he got Isaacson to interview everyone who might have anything significant to say about him, “even foes and former girlfriends,” and if, as Jobs thought, Isaacson was “good at getting people to talk,” then all of Jobs’ potential critics and detractors would be on the record, in this biography. Moreover, Jobs might be given the opportunity to answer them. The interviewees, knowing Jobs was still alive at the time of their interviews, would likely avoid saying anything that was false. And then later, after Jobs died, should they try to embellish upon or change their stories, they would appear to lack credibility. Thus Jobs was able to avoid what happened to others, like Ayn Rand, who never got to answer the charges made by her foes in posthumous biographies. So not only is Steve Jobs, the authorized biography written by Walter Isaacson, a tremendous resource for admirers, like me, who wanted to feel like they knew and understood the productive genius whom they never got a chance to meet, it was also Jobs’ final stroke of genius.

David Axelrod's Pattern of Sexual Misbehavior
Excerpt: Herman Cain has spent his life living and working all over the country -- Indiana, Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Washington, D.C. -- but never in Chicago. So it's curious that all the sexual harassment allegations against Cain emanate from Chicago: home of the Daley machine and Obama consigliere David Axelrod. Suspicions had already fallen on Sheila O'Grady, who is close with David Axelrod and went straight from being former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley's chief of staff to president of the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA), as being the person who dug up Herman Cain's personnel records from the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The Daley-controlled IRA works hand-in-glove with the NRA. And strangely enough, Cain's short, three-year tenure at the NRA is evidently the only period in his decades-long career during which he's alleged to have been a sexual predator.
Taxing Our Way to Prosperity
Excerpt: Manufacturing was particularly hard hit during the first decade of the twenty-first century. From 2000 through 2010, the United States lost one-third of its manufacturing sector: 5.6 million American jobs were shipped overseas or simply disappeared. As business economist David Hartman has pointed out, from 2000 through 2008 the U.S. manufacturing trade deficit subsequently amounted to $5.4 trillion. A central reason for the loss of our manufacturing base, a no-growth private sector, and massive trade deficits is a business tax system that is among the most onerous in the world, with its 35 percent income tax rate and its 6.2 percent employer portion of the payroll tax (7.5 percent if you include Medicare taxes). Our current business tax system rewards debt—because interest on debt is deductible—while punitively taxing the engines of economic growth: capital investment, employment, and savings. The result has been predictable: we have been exporting American jobs overseas, and we have been exporting prosperity. Adding insult to injury, U.S.-based businesses that have most of their plants and employees in the U.S. are (on average) at an 18 percent tax disadvantage to their trade competitors.

Obama's Green-Energy Jobs Lie
Excerpt: For several years the public has been told that "green energy" --an expansive term that embraces renewable energy, pollution reduction, and conservation-- will create jobs in America, lots of jobs. And that the federal government must subsidize green energy to create these jobs. Now it turns out that story is nothing but a fairy tale. At a hearing Wednesday before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee, the Inspector General of the Energy Department and an Assistant Inspector General of the Labor Department testified that funds authorized by Congress to create green jobs had not been spent or, if spent, had yielded meager results. Elliot Lewis, the Labor Department's assistant IG for audit, testified that an audit of the Department's green jobs training program showed that only 2.5 percent of individuals originally enrolled were still employed in the jobs for which they were trained six months after the start of their job. Whether they had gone on to other jobs, green or otherwise, or become unemployed, the Department's tracking system did not say.

Why Iran doesn’t fear Bam
Excerpt: As expected, the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s clandestine nuclear-weapons program has revealed, once again, that the Islamic Republic is determined to ignore international law and the threat of military action. Many factors may be behind Tehran’s behavior -- most notably, a misreading of the Obama administration’s intentions and America’s ability to impose its will on Iran if necessary. Iran’s official media have long claimed that President Obama has sent two letters to Iranian “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei. But until yesterday, there had been little information about Obama’s attempts at charming the mullahs with his magic prose. Now an editorial in Kayhan, a daily Tehran newspaper run by the office of the “Supreme Guide,” has revealed what it describes as “America’s demands” from the Islamic Republic. Since Khamenei has refused to write back to Obama, the editorial can be regarded as his reply.

Unbelievable: NLRB lawyer: "We screwed up the U.S. economy"
Excerpt: New documents obtained by Judicial Watch show acting National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Lafe Solomon joking that the NLRB's suit against Boeing would kill jobs in South Carolina. Commenting on a Planet Labor article whose headline suggests Boeing might not be able to open its new plant in South Carolina because of "antiunion behavior," Solomon writes: The article gave me a new idea. You go to Geneva and I get a job with airbus. We screwed up the us economy and now we can tackle europe. Solomon goes on to complain that Obama NLRB nominee Craig Becker may be getting the credit for the Boeing suit: "I didn't read all of the meltwater articles but some of the headlines tie boeing to craig. Unbelievable." Solomon's colleague, outgoing NLRB Chairwoman Wlima Liebman, replies by soothing Soloman's bruised ego. "None of the articles tie craig to boeing. Just mention his recess appointment. No one is raining on your parade," Liebman wrote in reply.

Union President Gives Congress Emails Backing Testimony: ICE Ordered Agents Not to Arrest Illegals
Excerpt: Chris Crane, president of the union that represents the nation’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, has provided the House Judiciary Committee and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) with what Crane says are internal ICE emails that back up testimony he gave in July and October that ICE headquarters had verbally ordered officers in the field not to arrest illegal aliens who did not have prior criminal convictions--even if they were fugitives evading deportation orders or were individuals who had illegally re-entered the United States after being deported and were thus committing a felony. “Increasingly, ICE headquarters leadership refuses to put directives to supervisors, agents and officers in the field regarding law enforcement operations in writing,” Crane told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration in written testimony submitted on July 26. “Orders and directives are given orally to prevent the activities of ICE's leadership from becoming public,” Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council 118, testified. “Agents and officers in the field are frequently under orders not to arrest persons suspected of being in the United States illegally. “At times those no-arrest orders include ICE fugitives, who have been ordered deported by an immigration judge, as well as individuals who have reentered the U.S. following deportation which is a federal felony,” Crane testified. “Agents and officers report that they are ordered not to run criminal or immigration background checks or even speak to individuals whom they reasonably suspect are in the U.S. illegally.”

Holder Can’t Name One Person Held Accountable for Fast and Furious
Excerpt: Attorney General Eric Holder, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, could not identify a single Justice Department official who was held accountable for the botched gun-walking program known as Operation Fast and Furious. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Holder, “Can you name me one person who’s been held accountable for this Fast and Furious Operation? Just one in the Department of Justice?” “Well we have made a number of changes with regard to personnel both in the Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s Office, also at the ATF headquarters here,” Holder said. “I will certainly await the report that comes out of the Inspector General. And I will assure you and the American people that people will be held accountable for any mistakes that were made in connection with Fast and Furious.” Two people connected to Fast and Furious resigned in August -- U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Active Director Kenneth Melson. Holder did not mention the three ATF supervisors who were closely involved in the operation – William McMahon, William Newell and David Voth – all of whom were either promoted or moved to new management positions at the agency's headquarters in Washington after whistleblowers complained to Congress.

Report: More Than 300,000 Incarcerated Aliens Identified as ‘Removable’ Were Instead Released Into the Community
Excerpt: More than 300,000 incarcerated criminal aliens identified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency as eligible for removal from the United States over a 30-month period ending last April were instead released into U.S. communities, a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report shows. The figures raise questions about the Obama administration’s assertions that it is prioritizing the removal of convicted criminal aliens. Between October 1, 2008 and April 30, 2011, ICE’s Secure Communities program identified 536,148 incarcerated criminal aliens as “removable” yet over that same period ICE placed only 226,694 under “administrative arrest,” according to the Oct. 21 CRS report.

The Rising Threat from Nigeria's Boko Haram Militant Group
Excerpt: The U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, issued a warning Nov. 5 indicating it had received intelligence that the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram may have been planning to bomb several targets in the Nigerian capital during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, also known as Eid al-Kabir, celebrated Nov. 6-8. The warning specifically mentioned the Hilton, Nicon Luxury and Sheraton hotels as potential targets. The warning came in the wake of a string of bombings and armed attacks Nov. 4 in the cities of Maiduguri, Damaturu and Potiskum, all of which are located in Nigeria’s northeast. An attack also occurred in the north-central Nigerian city of Kaduna. The sites targeted in the wave of attacks included a military base in Maiduguri and the anti-terrorism court building in Damaturu. Militants reportedly attacked these two sites with suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). The Nigerian Red Cross reported that more than 100 people were killed in the attacks, while some media reports claimed the death toll was at least 150.

Pedophiles aka “Minor-Attracted Persons”
Excerpt: This past August, a Baltimore conference was sponsored by B4U-ACT, a group of pro-pedophile mental health professionals and sympathetic activists. Yep, you read that correctly. Their goal is to eliminate pedophilia from the list of mental illnesses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is scheduled to undergo a significant revision by 2013. (Too late for Penn State. ~Bob.)

The Real Scandal by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: The real scandal in the accusations against Herman Cain is the corruption of the law, the media and politics. Let's start with the law. Some people may think the fact that the National Restaurant Association reportedly paid $45,000 to settle a claim made by one of its employees against Mr. Cain is incriminating. Most of us are not going to part with 45 grand without some serious reason. But that is very different from the situation of an organization in the present legal climate. The figure $45,000 struck a chord with me because, some years ago, my wife -- who is an attorney -- was fervently congratulated when her client had to pay "only" $45,000 in a jury award when the plaintiff was demanding a million dollars, in a case that was as frivolous a lawsuit as you could find. The person who was suing was a drunk driver, whose car went out of control and slammed into a tree. After the sheriff's deputies arrested her, she sued them on dubious charges, and the sheriff's department was glad it had to pay "only" $45,000. The department was painfully aware of the uncertainty about what ruinous costs a jury might impose on the deputies.

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