Thursday, November 3, 2011

Political Digest for November 3, 2011

A few items posted before I head out on biz trip. Things should be back to normal on Monday or Tuesday. ~Bob.

Blog Removed.
If you log on to the Old Jarhead blog and get this notice, please check back. Every week since August, Google’s Spam Filter has pulled my blog, first on Saturdays, then Wednesdays, lately on Thursdays. 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 to10k a week and over 1,160 followers here.

Charities I support

Sexual Harassment
The Cain sexual harassment charge makes everyone uncomfortable. (Let me say that I don’t know what the facts are—neither do members of the media.) Women are socialized to be concerned about being victims. Men are ever concerned about being falsely accused. In too many offices today, women have felt free to make mild sexual jokes, flirt in a teasing way, to comment on sexual things or stories, and to banter in ways that their male colleagues dare not respond to. It has happened to me fairly often. A man knows anything he says may come back to bite him. A woman knows that she has to be far over the line before she will be called on it. Even calling a woman on a sexual remark might make her "uncomfortable." Back in the 1990s, I managed an office. An older, beloved former boss came in and said, in front of a female staffer, "This is one sexy little broad." "I think I hear a sexual harassment suit being filed," I said. "The female staff member looked me in the eye and said, "It depends on who says it." Warning shot detected. The same conduct may be okay from a person they like, but the subject of action if they don't like the guy. The crime of creating a hostile environment--as opposed to quid pro quo sexual blackmail--is a crime that happens in the mind of the victim. And it may not be a crime there until later, when she develops a grudge on an unrelated, non-sexual issue. No one wants hostile environments, with boors making women uncomfortable with jokes and comments that are over the line. But I've seen women make similar, sexual banter to tease a response out of an unwary male, then nail him. So I don't know what the solution is. More dollars for lawyers, I guess. ~Bob.

Facts are optional
Excerpt: When you consider that, more than a decade ago, Herman Cain settled some unspecified sexual-harassment claims, you also need to consider that the only things you need to file a lawsuit are the filing fee and a printer. Facts are optional. Maybe Cain did harass some employees. But the dirty little secret among lawyers that defend business people from lawsuits -- and among those lawyers who bring them -- is that an enormous percentage of such claims are frivolous, if not flat-out lies. Concepts like “truth” and “justice” have little meaning in the world of big-money litigation. Thanks to ravenous plaintiffs’ lawyers empowered by the politicians they buy with campaign contributions, every business person is in the crosshairs. Lawsuits are so expensive to defend that it makes good business sense to settle even the most frivolous cases. And businesses do.

Four Legacies of Feminism
Excerpt: Men need a role, or they become, as the title of George Gilder’s classic book on single men describes them: Naked Nomads. In little more than a generation, feminism has obliterated roles. If you wonder why so many men choose not to get married, the answer lies in large part in the contemporary devaluation of the husband and of the father — of men as men, in other words. Most men want to be honored in some way — as a husband, a father, a provider, as an accomplished something; they don’t want merely to be “equal partners” with a wife.

An Emerging Tiger in South America
Excerpt: On October 21, President Obama signed into law the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (FTA), thereby giving American exporters greater access to one of South America’s fastest growing markets. The long, tiring debate over the FTA—which began five years ago, when the agreement was first completed—showed that popular perceptions of Colombia are stuck in a time warp. Not only has the country become a much safer and less violent place than it was in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, it has also become one of the most promising economies in the Western Hemisphere. Last year, veteran Latin America correspondent Mac Margolis described Colombia as “a prospering dynamo,” noting that foreign direct investment (FDI) increased fivefold—and per capita GDP doubled—between 2002 and 2010. For that matter, the country received more than $7 billion worth of FDI during the first six months of 2011, an increase of 91.4 percent over the equivalent period in 2010. As the Wall Street Journal reported in mid-September, Colombia is one of six developing nations that “are being touted as the next generation of tiger economies.” Known by the acronym CIVETS, this group also includes Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa.

Melanie Phillips: Another No-Go Area in Londonistan
Excerpt: Earlier this year in the east London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Newham, posters suddenly sprouted in the streets declaring: ‘You are entering a Sharia controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced.’ Underneath were images indicating that smoking, alcohol and music were banned. Also this year posters declaring Tower Hamlets a ‘gay-free zone’ were put up across the borough. Police and local councillors declared that they would take all such posters down. Now, however, it seems that the threatening implications of self-declared ‘Muslim areas’ are spreading into the heart of our democracy. Last Friday Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, was forced to abandon his constituency surgery at the North Finchley mosque and hide in a locked part of the building when a group of activists from the ‘Muslims against Crusades’ group forced their way in. The Daily Mail reported that Mr Freer, a gay man and a member of Conservative Friends of Israel, said he was called a ‘Jewish homosexual pig’.

Mosaic of Diversity Alert: Only 34% of Canadian Muslims Refuse to Repudiate Al Qaeda
Excerpt: "The positive views of Canadian society and political system among Canadian Muslims surveyed are good news. So too is the large majority opposition to Al Qaeda among respondents. Almost two-thirds (65%) “repudiate absolutely” this Islamist terrorist organisation. On the other hand, a significant minority of respondents do not. As Winn and Leuprecht note, “From a security perspective, it is difficult to know if a 65% rate of repudiation [of Al Qaeda] is re-assuring or a 35% failure to repudiate troubling.” Talk about quiet Canadian understatement.

The Truth About Islam
Excerpt: On the contrary, “Islamists” move among non-political, non-supremacist Muslims with no difficulty; no Islamic authorities are putting them out of mosques, or setting up separate institutions to distinguish themselves from the “Islamists.” Mevlid Jasarevic could and did visit mosques in Austria, Serbia, and Bosnia without impediment before he started shooting on Friday; no one stopped him from entering because he was an “Islamist.” So if Muslims do not generally make this distinction among themselves, should non-Muslim analysts make it?

Klavan on the Culture: What Leftism Does to People
Excerpt: The true test of a philosophy is not what it promises to make of the world but what it makes, in fact, of its adherents. Human nature is remarkably recalcitrant, but ideas do affect people over time, for good or ill, and the societies people make will ultimately bear the image of those effects and thus of the ideas. When historian Paul Johnson, in his book Intellectuals, detailed the often vicious and demented lives of such thinkers as Rousseau, Shelley, and Marx, he was not engaging in casual ad hominem attacks, or playing gotcha with our universal tendencies toward weakness, perversion, and moral failure. He was attempting to trace both the origins and the consequences of his subjects’ philosophical errors. Our beliefs arise from who we are and we become what we believe, a process which, according to our choices, can either resemble a spiral staircase heavenward or a flushing toilet. To him who has, more will be given, and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Vanderbuilt to Religious Groups: No Beliefs Allowed
Excerpt: Pity the modern college administrator — it must be painful to be so politically correct that you’re forced to make embarrassing and nonsensical decisions. That’s what Vanderbilt University has done this fall by telling the Christian Legal Society (CLS) that if it wants to be equal to other groups on campus, it can’t require its own leaders to have any Christian beliefs. Twenty-three members of Congress, along with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work), are pointing out that this makes no sense at all. CLS isn’t the only victim of Vanderbilt’s bizarre regime of political correctness. It’s been reported that a dozen groups, five of them religious, have had recognition of their constitutions “deferred” because they require their members or leaders to actually believe in the purpose of the group.

The physics of wealth
Excerpt: How do you explain the gap between rich and poor? The social scientists and Wall Street occupiers have taken their crack at the question. Now it’s the physicists’ turn. An engineering professor at Duke University (Adrian Bejan) and a physics professor at Boston University (Eugene Stanley) are independently leading researchers to answer questions about income inequality. And their answers are fascinating. The “gap,” they argue in different ways, is natural — much like gravity or running water. Before the partisans start in, we should remind ourselves that Bejan and Stanley are doing science. They’re not trying to answer questions of value, the “ought” questions of wealth redistribution. They’re looking for facts. And their results could inform political discourse for a long time to come.

The end of the euro is nigh
Excerpt: Beware of Greeks bearing referendums. They might just be inclined to vote for liberty, for sanity, for social harmony. This will not be without pain, for they come with default on the nation’s debt, the re-birth of the drachma, and an awful lot of inflation and unemployment. But, the Greeks might say, at least it’s their drachma, their inflation and their unemployment: they will own it, because they are sovereign once again. The EU’s political √©lite have wanted to avoid a plebiscite at any cost - literally. EU politicians have spent months assuring us that the bailouts are working; that Greece will not default. We, of course, knew otherwise. Greece is insolvent, broke, bankrupt: its government cannot repay its debts and will never be able to do so. Pumping in bailouts of billions of euros may make the country liquid for a time, but it is nothing but political sticking plaster. It will not improve solvency; it merely delays the inevitable. And the inevitable duly came: Greece defaulted, 50 per cent of her debt was written off, and a trillion euros were dedicated to bank recapitalisation to prevent the contagion spreading to Portugal, Italy or Spain. (I have drawn some fire from observers in the US who think I am sending economic information that is unnecessarily pessimistic. My response at this point is: let's all sit back and watch the fight. If you are optimistic about the outcome and I am pessimistic, then the best thing to do is wait and see. My bet is on the euro zone unraveling rather quickly at this point. That in turn may -- not betting on this though -- cause the EU itself to crumble further. The EU is totally undemocratic, is not liked by most Europeans, and is based on a preposterous assumption, which is this: The world wars fought in Europe were allegedly caused by nationalism. If all nations have the same government and currency, all war will become obsolete. Merkel recently said "no countries with the same currency have ever waged war against each other." That is one of the most inane statements ever made by a national leader. Can you think of two countries at the time of WW I and WW II that had the same currency? So if essentially all nations had different currencies, how would we know that two countries with the same currency would not fight each other? Besides, almost all civil wars are fought by two factions with the same currency. They get just as dead and maimed by these wars as the ones with different currencies. Further, even a cursory look at the last war shows that it was actually the nationalism of the various allies that saved them, i.e. the love of their own countries and the desire for their way of life to survive -- not a supranational, global outlook or a desire to be a global citizen. And while elitist leaders certainly had dreams of world government, the grassroots emerged from the war with no such aspirations. They were glad to be citizens of their respective states. Much more than nationalism (on the part of Germany), it was a desire to build and empire that caused the wards. And an empire is exactly what the European Union is. --Don Hank. Thomas Friedman once said that no two countries with a McDonalds ever went to war. Bill Clinton promptly bombed the Serbs, McDonalds and all. ~Bob.)

Government in Greece Teeters After Move on Referendum
Excerpt: Several lawmakers in the governing Socialist Party rejected Mr. Papandreou’s surprise plan for a popular referendum on the Greek bailout, raising the possibility that he will not survive a no-confidence vote scheduled for Friday that depends on his holding together a razor-thin parliamentary majority. Mr. Papandreou was holding an emergency cabinet meeting Tuesday evening to save his government, but the opposition and some members of his own party were calling for new elections immediately. The impasse in Athens seemed likely to delay — and perhaps scuttle — the debt deal that European leaders reached after marathon negotiations in Brussels last week.

Greece: Revenge of the Sovereign Nation
Excerpt: If handled badly, the disorderly insolvency of the world’s third largest debtor with €1.9 trillion in public debt and nearer €3.5 trillion in total debt would be a much greater event than the fall of Credit Anstalt in 1931. (Let me add that Italy is not fundamentally insolvent. It is only in these straits because it does not have a lender of last resort, a sovereign central bank, or a sovereign currency. The euro structure itself has turned a solvent state into an insolvent state. It is reverse alchemy.) The Anstalt debacle triggered the European banking collapse, set off tremors in London and New York, and turned recession into depression. Within four months the global financial order had essentially disintegrated. That is the risk right now as the reality of Europe’s make-up becomes clear.

Democrats, and liberals in general, have their puppets out front calling Herman Cain everything from oreo, uncle Tom, sell out, and whatever else their amebic minds are able to come up with. Their inbred racist looneys are typically found on MSNBC, CNN, and at such times as the pitiful dregs of society like Sean Penn and Janeane Garofalo are released to blather and babble about that which they are experts in – white racism. Accordingly it is not surprising that Congressman Elijah Cummings, (D-MD), took time away from his race-baiting Congressional Black Congress duties to attempt to besmirch Cain. Cummings told an online production of NBC’s Meet the Press: “I think when [members of the Tea Party] can vote for a Herman Cain and hear him say the things he says they feel like, well you know, I can, I support this guy and is it shows that I’m not racist and I’m supportive,” he told host David Gregory. Cummings statement indicates he doesn’t have the common sense of the donkey that represents his party or he wouldn’t have created the tar-baby (i.e. sticky situation) he created. I’m saying the ignorance of his statement will stick to him like glue. In an attempt to prove himself intellectually agile, he obviously didn’t comprehend just how foolish and illogical his statement was. Also, one would think, if Gregory would have shifted in his seat enough to stimulate that portion of his mind, he had buried in that portion of his anatomy he was sitting on – he would have questioned Cummings pursuant to the validity of his comments.

Video on ObamaCare

Mark Steyn: Revolution, Inc
Excerpt: You won't be surprised to hear that Ben & Jerry's, the hippie-dippy Vermont ice-cream makers, have come out in favor of "
Occupy Wall Street
." Or as their press release puts it: We, the Ben & Jerry's Board of Directors, compelled by our personal convictions and our Company's mission and values, wish to express our deepest admiration to all of you who have initiated the non-violent Occupy Wall Street Movement and to those around the country who have joined in solidarity. Ben & Jerry's is a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever. What's that? It's an Anglo-Dutch multinational (stand well back) corporation. They produce a big chunk of everything in your kitchen and bathroom. Twelve of their brands have annual sales of over a billion euros per product, and, as I'm sure I don't need to point out, a euro is well north of a buck these days. Unilever's various billion-euro brands include Hellmann's mayonnaise, Sunsilk shampoo, and Flora margarine.

Via Mark Steyn: Occupy Toronto Eloi get by with a little help from their friends--the unions
Excerpt: The three yurts cost $21,000, which is being picked up by the unions, including OPSEU [Ontario Public Service Employees Union]. One hut will serve as a medical area and another has been designated for use as a post office and library. The largest of the three may act as a warming centre or dining room. “In the mornings it is quite chilly outside the tents,” Harris said. “As long as people are layered up the right way and people are taking the proper precautions we should be able to avoid frostbite and hypothermia and other things like that.” Air Canada donated six rolls of foam thermal sheeting Sunday, which Harris said will be used to help insulate the yurts and some of the tents at the site.

UK: Member of Parliament 'threatened at mosque'
Excerpt: An MP has described how he waited for police behind a locked door during a constituency surgery after he was threatened by a group of men. Mike Freer said it happened at North Finchley mosque in north London as he met constituents on Friday afternoon. Mr Freer said about 12 people forced their way inside, with one of them calling him a "Jewish homosexual pig".

Second US Loan Recipient Declares Bankruptcy
Excerpt: Another energy firm that received a loan guarantee from the U.S. government filed for bankruptcy protection this week, two months after the solar firm Solyndra did the same. The comparisons between Beacon Power, which declared bankruptcy on Monday, and Solyndra ends there, said the company’s CEO, Bill Capp. (If you vote Democrat and they don't win, you can get the same results by taking out a home loan, shoving the cash in a hole in your back yard, adding gas and setting it on fire. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Portland Police Arrest 4 at Occupy Portland Encampment on Saturday – 10/29/11 On Saturday October 29, 2011, Portland Police made four arrests at Chapman and Lownsdale Squares related to Occupy Portland. 40-year-old John Van Enige IV was observed by officers urinating on the
Southwest Madison Street
side of
Chapman Square
. Officers located him inside the camp where he resisted arrest and was taken to the ground by officers. One officer injured his hand during the arrest. Van Enige was booked into the Multnomah County Jail for Indecent Exposure and Interfering with a Police Officer. Van Enige was also given a park exclusion. 40-year-old Troy Thompson was arrested on a restraining order violation after officers walking the area of Occupy Portland were contacted by a man who told officers that he has a valid restraining order against Thompson. Thompson had a small baggy of marijuana in his pocket and was given a park exclusion for
Chapman Square
. Thompson was booked into the Multnomah County Jail. 28-year-old Jason Alan Lord was arrested on an outstanding escape warrant out of the Olympia, Washington. Lord is a Registered Sex Offender and told officers that he’s been living at Occupy Portland in a tent with his “camp mom.” Lord was booked into the Multnomah County Jail.

Will Green Energy Make the United States Less Secure?
Excerpt: Environmentalists have long cited the environmental harms caused by fossil fuels as evidence of the need to move to green sources of energy such as wind and solar power. Recently, some conservatives have joined their cause, citing national security concerns. However, key components of renewable energy technologies are made from a small number of rare earth elements, and other rare minerals. Despite the name, these elements are relatively abundant, but they are rarely found in economically exploitable concentrations. The exception to this is the People's Republic of China, where the concentration of the minerals is so high that the country has a de facto monopoly on their trade, according to H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. The intensifying push to adopt renewable energy technologies that require rare earths will require tradeoffs, including swapping one form of dependence for another, much more restrictive one. As America relies more on green technology, it will be increasingly dependent on China's good will. For example, the Obama administration has touted solar panel manufacturing as a green-job growth sector. However, China has a near monopoly on the element required to make solar panels, making it virtually impossible for American solar power companies to compete with Chinese-owned firms. Consider: In 2003, China produced only 1 percent of the world's solar panels but by 2009 its share had grown to 38 percent. In 2003, U.S. production of solar panels accounted for 14 percent of the world total, but by 2009 the U.S. share had fallen to just 4 percent. Production in countries other than China fell from 85 percent of the world market in 2003 to 58 percent in 2009. The boom in China's solar panel production has driven down the prices of similar U.S. products by around 50 percent, which is good for consumers in the short run but not good for U.S. manufacturing jobs. China is increasing domestic consumption of rare earth elements and rare minerals, and has already demonstrated a willingness to use its near monopoly of the market for these critical resources to force geopolitical concessions from other countries. As a result, the push for green energy is likely to reduce U.S. economic and geopolitical security rather than enhance it.

Overpopulation Isn't the Problem
Excerpt: With the world's population recently surpassing the 7 billion mark, classic concerns over the unsustainability of the world's population are again coming to the forefront. However, these concerns often miss the true crux of the issue: the problem is not that there are too many people in the world, but too few babies to support them. While this might seem contradictory, a consistent and stable growth in the number of babies helps to keep population demographics stable and avoid drastic and volatile breaks from the norm. Yet this relationship brings just as much cause for alarm as the previous issue, as the number of children around the world has also been declining for years, says Joel Kotkin, the distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University. Fifty-nine countries currently maintain fertility rates (births per average woman) below 2.1 -- a rate that will no longer replace the current population. In some of the worst-off countries such as Japan, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and those in Eastern Europe, the proportion of the population over the age of 65 has skyrocketed past global averages, rising above 20 percent for each of these countries. By 2030, many of these same countries will have only two workers for every retiree; economic superpowers such as the United States and China will fair only slightly better with three workers per retiree. It is true that a lower birth rate can increase economic output in the short run by allowing workers to be more productive, thereby spurring growth. However, the consequences of such a demographic trend are most powerfully felt in terms of the relative sizes of the worker and retiree populations. As a growing number of the members of the workforce retire with few or no children to replace them, many countries will face the consequences of an aged population such as high dependency ratios and health care costs.

Julian Assange loses appeal against extradition
Excerpt: The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has lost his high court appeal against extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations. Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley on Wednesday handed down their judgment in the 40-year-old Australian's appeal against a European arrest warrant issued by Swedish prosecutors after rape and sexual assault accusations made by two Swedish women following his visit to Stockholm in August 2010. (...) Assange's lawyers said they would take 14 days to decide whether to seek the right to appeal to the supreme court and said they would challenge the £19,000 costs against him, indicating he might not have the means to pay. (...) To appeal again, Assange must persuade the judges there is a wider issue of "public importance" at stake in the latest decision. If he is successful in persuading the high court of that, he is likely to remain on conditional bail until a hearing in front of the supreme court. This is unlikely to take place until next year. If he is denied the right to appeal then British law enforcement officers will be responsible for arranging his removal to Sweden within 10 days.

Are Christians facing extinction on the Arab street?
Excerpt: The 'panda syndrome' saw Christians protected by Arab leaders, but this relationship is in dramatic decline The killing of dozens of Coptic Christian protesters during the recent turmoil in Cairo is one of the by-products of the Arab spring – and, unfortunately, a predictable one. Secular dictatorships such as those of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and even of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gadaffi in Libya were a bloody nightmare for political dissidents. But Christian minorities felt protected from Islamic persecution and were allowed to practise their religious faith. In exchange, respecting a tacit compromise, they stood at a distance from politics. This is known in the Vatican as "the panda syndrome", after the name of those inoffensive, vegetarian bears protected by Chinese authorities, to prevent their extinction. "But when a species has to be protected, it means it's already disappearing," points out the Egyptian Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir.

Doomsday Cultists in Science
Excerpt: Other than a few of the world’s dimmer bulbs who actually donated money to him, not many people hold Harold Camping’s, um, faulty mathematics against him. Camping is the evangelist from California who twice this year – and 12 times since 1978 – has predicted with disconcerting precision the end of the world. He had it down to the minute – 5:59 p.m., on May 21, then was slightly less specific, giving us just the day, on Oct. 22. But Camping is 89 and not as good with figures as he once was. And besides, he’s just trying to save our souls, and his faulty predictions don’t really hurt anyone. Frederick vom Saal, who is wrong with the same consistency and regularity, is another story. vom Saal is the University of Missouri researcher who has created a mini-industry of opposing use of the chemical Bisphenol A or BPA. It helps plastic harden, is used for food can safety liners and in shatterproof baby bottles which can withstand the hundreds of trips through dishwasher they must endure. A lot of hard-plastic water bottles contain BPA. So do cans of every sort – vegetables, beer, all of them. (Scary article exposing still more possible corruption in science. Ron P.)

Collective Misery is the Prescription for Failure
Excerpt: I suppose it’s a statement on our culture – that collective suffering is supposed to somehow make us feel better about ourselves. It’s no wonder that we’ve become so dependent as a nation. When enough people are handed defeats, defeatism becomes acceptable, even an inevitability… and we look to others to save us. We see this brand of group-think in the Occupy protesters. We hear it in their messaging – “We are the 99%”. The collective nature of their grievances substantiates (in their minds) the notion that they’re victims, and that those who aren’t (the wealthy) are to blame. Thus, the rich owe something to the less fortunate. This is certainly the mindset the Obama administration is counting on in hopes of winning a second term. You see it in their relentless pursuit of the class warfare strategy that ironically can only be successful if the economy remains weak, jobs remain sparse, and people remain resentful of those who are succeeding. In that sense, it seems the administration has given up on things getting better as well.

Greek Chaos Ripples Across Globe by Arnold Ahlert
Excerpt: Apparently a spasm of democracy, no matter how potentially catastrophic it may or may not be, has broken out in Greece. In apparent defiance of a deal worked out last week among members of the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has called for a referendum, allowing the Greek people to decide whether or not they want the deal. Thus, the Oct. 27th pact, comprised of a second bailout of $178 billion along with a commitment by bondholders to accept a 50 percent writedown in Greek debt, remains very much in limbo–along with Mr. Papandreou’s future. Six members of the Prime Minister’s socialist Pasok party have called for his resignation, and party defections leave him in control of only 151 seats in the 300-seat parliament.

Union Gangsters: Jimmy Hoffa Jr.
Excerpt: Few union gangsters have the exquisitely barbaric pedigree of International Brotherhood of Teamsters president James P. Hoffa. And few labor unions can match the Teamsters, the million-plus member union of truckers and blue-collar workers, for its legendary connections to organized crime, corruption, and violence. For decades the word Teamster was essentially a synonym for gangster. Hoffa is the son of James R. Hoffa, the relentlessly corrupt, larger-than-life Teamsters president who worked closely with figures from the crime underworld. In July 1975 the elder Hoffa disappeared mysteriously outside a suburban Detroit restaurant at which he was planning to meet with two mobsters. His body has never been found.

Blame Our Failing Schools for Occupy Wall Street
Excerpt: Having taught in a state university for thirty years, I’m not surprised by the ignorance on display among the
Occupy Wall Street
protestors. From kindergarten to university, for decades our schools have abandoned the teaching of basic facts and foundational thinking skills, and replaced both with leftish received wisdom and stale mythologies, all the while they have anxiously monitored and puffed up students’ self-esteem. This lack of critical understanding and ignorance of simple fact characterize the main theme of the protests, that the wealthy “1%” of Americans have gamed the system to enrich themselves at the expense of everybody else, an analysis redolent of Scrooge McDuck cartoons or Frank Capra’s portrait of Old Man Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. But these caricatures are woefully uninformed about how a global, free market economy works. For example, the protestors rail about growing “income inequality,” but they forget that this expansion of the wealth of top earners has been accompanied by that same cohort’s paying more and more of the total federal tax bill, so that today nearly half of tax-filers pay nothing. Nor do they consider the issue of income mobility: from 1999-2007, about half of households in the bottom quintile had moved up the income ladder, while nearly half of households in the top quintile had moved down.

Excerpt: One of the strange things about the politics of health reform is the willingness of those on the left to segregate low-income families into a separate and (universally acknowledged) inferior health care system called Medicaid. Half of all the people who will be newly insured under Obama care will be enrolled in Medicaid. The same thing happened under Massachusetts’ health reform. This, despite the observation by yours truly and many others that there is not much difference between Medicaid and the charity care system that Medicaid replaced. In fact, if we abolished Medicaid with the stroke of a pen and let the states spend the money on indigent care, it’s not obvious that low-income families would be worse off. By contrast, the idea of using Medicaid funds to subsidize private insurance — allowing the poor to participate in the same health care system everyone else has access to — is popular among a lot of conservative Republicans. This dichotomy is not restricted to health care. The left’s entire approach to poverty is to segregate the poor into inferior public provision, while the rest of society enjoys the benefits of quasi-private provision. It’s as though the left wing in American politics wants socialism for the poor and capitalism for everyone else. If you live in a middle-class household, you generally expect your needs to be met through the marketplace. You buy or rent housing in the real estate market. When you aren’t driving your own car, you catch a taxicab or maybe even hire a limo. You or your employer buy health insurance, and you choose your doctor in the medical marketplace.

Jim Webb goes out swinging
Excerpt: On the wall in Sen. Jim Webb’s office hangs a framed newspaper article highlighting his “blunt challenge” to President George W. Bush during an emphatic Democratic State of the Union response in 2007. Webb is now on his way out of the Senate — and he’s offering a blunt challenge to his own party. He’s opposed President Barack Obama’s jobs proposals because of its tax policies. He suggests the administration is not being “serious” and believes the White House seems to have “misquoted” Warren Buffett in some of its proposals. Webb won’t even say whether he’d stump next year for Obama in Virginia, a state critical to the president’s reelection hopes. And he expressed frustration that Senate Democratic leaders continue to bring pieces of the president’s plan forward even though they know full well the proposals will fail. “I think people in this country are really worried about the future — they are looking for people who will stick up for them,” he said, before referring to his leadership’s strategy as political “messaging.”

Obama's Student Loan Gift to Occupy Wall Street
Excerpt: In the 2008 election, Senator Barack Obama reached out to young Americans with a fresh message that appealed to their dissatisfaction with the nation's political process. He called it hope and change, and he connected with their hearts and minds with such success that he captured 66 percent of the vote of those under 30. Now, three years later, some of those young Americans have taken to the streets not in joy and exuberance but in anger and frustration. President Obama has heard their call, and he's now appealing once again to his political base. Last week President Obama came bearing gifts in a speech at the University of Colorado in Denver--relief from student loan debt, delivered by way of an executive order without congressional authorization. Under the President's plan, money lenders cannot require students to pay more than 10 percent of discretionary annual income for student loans. It also completely forgives student loans in 20 years, five years fewer than before. But here's the fine print, a key fact that the President failed to mention in his speech: For all its pomp and circumstance, the President's plan would save college students less than $10 per month--barely enough to buy two cups of coffee from Starbucks. But that supposed "relief" will still cost taxpayers, who are already stretched thin.

Strong support for Shariah in Canada
Excerpt: A newly released survey suggests a large number of Muslims living in Canada will not disown Al-Qaida. The study, conducted by the MacDonald Laurier Institute, found 65% of Muslims questioned said they would “repudiate absolutely” the terrorist organization, while 35% would not do so. “From a security perspective, it is difficult to know if a 65% rate of repudiation (of Al-Qaida) is re-assuring or a 35% failure to repudiate troubling,” wrote study authors Christian Leuprecht, associate professor of the Royal Military College of Canada and Conrad Winn, Carleton University professor and president of COMPAS, a public opinion research firm.

Family saved from magic spell: Family claimed spell was cast by maid before leaving Saudi
think they could do anything about Nancy Pelosi? ~Bob. Excerpt: Saudi Arabia’s religious police saved a family that had suffered from psychological and health problems because of a magic spell cast by their housemaid before departing from the Gulf Kingdom. In a report from the capital Riyadh, a newspaper said the family plunged into endless problems just after the departure of their Asian maid. But its members restored normal life once the spell was found and neutralized by experts.

The Stupidity of "Buy American" by John Stossel
Excerpt: One sign of economic ignorance is the faith that "Buy American" is the path to prosperity. My former employer, ABC News, did a week's worth of stories claiming that "buying American" would put Americans back to work. I'm glad I don't work there anymore. "Buy American" is a dumb idea. It would not only not create prosperity, it would cost jobs and make us all poorer. David R. Henderson, an economist at the Hoover Institution, explained why. "Almost all economists say it's nonsense," he said. "And the reason is: We should buy things where they're cheapest. That frees up more of our resources to buy other things, and other Americans get jobs producing those things." This is what people always forget. Anytime we can use fewer resources and less labor to produce one thing, that leaves more for other things we can't afford. If we save money buying abroad, we can make and buy other products. The nonsense of "Buy American" can be seen if you trace out the logic. "If it's good to Buy American," Henderson said, "why isn't it good to have Buy Alabaman? And if it's good to have Buy Alabaman, why isn't it good to have Buy Montgomery, Ala.? And if it's good to have Buy Montgomery, Ala. ..."

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