Thursday, December 29, 2011

Political Digest for December 29, 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.

What makes The Old Jarhead different?
Of all the sources for news and opinion on the Internet, this may be the only one who doesn’t try to make money selling you stuff and/or begging you for donations. (Yes, I push my books, but the royalties go to help wounded vets, and I give away free PDFs of The Coming Collapse of the American Republic.) This might have to change when my disease forces my retirement, but for now, enjoy this without any “year end appeal” for cash. ~Bob.

Looking for a fit
Cartoon.

Blocked articles
The NYT and the WSJ sometimes block access to subscribers, even though I was able to read the article. (I don’t subscribe and don’t l=include anything I know is behind a firewall). Often you can read by pasting the title in Google and searching for an unblocked copy. Trouble, I know, but there it is. Below may be a case in point. ~Bob.

The Federal Reserve's Covert Bailout of Europe. When is a loan between central banks not a loan? When it is a dollars-for-euros currency swap. By Gerald P. O'driscoll Jr.
Excerpt: America's central bank, the Federal Reserve, is engaged in a bailout of European banks. Surprisingly, its operation is largely unnoticed here. The Fed is using what is termed a "temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangement" with the European Central Bank (ECB).

Ron Paul and the racist newsletters (Fact Checker biography)
Excerpt: Paul offers implausible explanations for why so many derogatory statements made it into his publications, insisting he knew nothing about them. It’s hard to believe that a man who wants to oversee the entire U.S. government — albeit a smaller version — would provide zero oversight of his publications, or even bother to read them from time to time. The Texas congressman has to take responsibility for the newsletters that bear his name, or at least acknowledge negligence as the former head of the company that produced them. He earns three Pinocchios for failing to do so. (However you view this and Paul, this would be a major distraction if he were the nominee. ~Bob.)

Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing
Excerpt: In the space of three years, the administration has built an extensive apparatus for using drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of other adversaries. The apparatus involves dozens of secret facilities, including two operational hubs on the East Coast, virtual Air Force­ ­cockpits in the Southwest and clandestine bases in at least six countries on two continents. (There’s a long list of things I don’t like about Obama, but this isn’t one of them. Only he could have done it, because the media would have slaughtered McCain or any Republican who did. ~Bob.)

Washington’s year of drama leaves little done regarding debt
Excerpt: Last week, however, Ribble went home for the holidays with little to show for all the political drama. The debt stood at $15.1 trillion, $1 trillion more than when he got to town. By the end of next year, projections show, it will grow by an additional $1 trillion. Ribble said he and his allies had cut spending for 2012 by only about $7 billion, a sliver so tiny Ribble could measure its impact in minutes.

EMILY's List ranks Gingrich as 'worst' GOP presidential candidate
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is ranked as the worst GOP candidate in this year's presidential contest by EMILY's List, a group that supports pro-abortion rights Democratic women. … It includes candidates' positions on abortion, healthcare reforms, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, economic stimulus and "workplace fairness" laws. It also penalized candidates for changing their positions on those issues, which hurt Gingrich and Mitt Romney the most. (Poor Newt. Some conservatives think he’s a RINO, while progressive feminists think he’s the worst conservative candidate. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: As depression overcame me, I vacillated between reaching for a tissue or another cup of eggnog …. until it dawned on me that all of the people who are recycling this (basically failed) idea are people who don’t believe in prices. To a man (are there any women in here?), they believe that no one should ever have to face a real price – certainly not for health care and not for health insurance either. My one contribution to this discussion is the observation that if everyone faces perverse incentives, you are going to get very perverse outcomes. My only regret: my conclusion has not been recycled enough to stop the policy wonks from continuing to think they can give people incentives to do perverse things and then successfully stop them from doing those things. Okay, halt. I’m going to put these people out of their misery. Folks, we already know enough to design an insurance plan that will cut health care spending in half and improve quality and access to care at the same time. Explanation below the fold. (Great ideas, but they require people to be responsible. And politicians love to rush in and secure the votes of the irresponsible by rescuing them. See the housing market. ~Bob.)

Medicare Whac-A-Mole
Excerpt: Medicare as we know it is the nation's biggest fiscal disaster. For years members of Congress and the executive branch have been trying, and failing, to find ways to restrain the growth of government health spending on seniors. As the single largest driver of long-term federal debt, the program is projected to increase in costs rapidly over the next few decades, with the twin drivers of a gradually aging population and rising health care costs that outstrip inflation and economic growth, says Peter Suderman, an associate editor at Reason Magazine. Medicare is a $500 billion program on track to become a $1 trillion program before hitting estimated insolvency in 2024. President Obama has made modest inroads, having signed a debt deal with Republicans over the summer that allowed for a 2 percent cut to Medicare spending. He also endorsed a $248 billion Medicare cut as part of his own debt reduction proposal in September.

53% Still Favor Building Keystone XL Pipeline
Excerpt: Most voters continue to favor the building of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas that congressional Republicans are prodding President Obama to approve in legislation passed last week. Republicans see the pipeline as a job creator, while Democrats view it as an environmental risk. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 53% of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor building the Keystone XL pipeline. (Just one more case where Obama takes the side of the 1% fuzzy green elites against the poor and middleclass. ~Bob.)

The EPA's Fracking Scare
Believe nothing the liberal environmental lobby tells you. As the climate-gate e-mails prove, they will openly lie to scare people into doing their bidding. They are determined to raise energy costs, and if that means working people don’t, or poor people can’t afford heat, lights and food, that’s just tough. ~Bob.) Excerpt: The shale gas boom has been a rare bright spot in the U.S. economy, so much of the country let out a shudder a few weeks ago when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a "draft" report that the drilling process of hydraulic fracturing may have contaminated ground water in Pavillion, Wyoming. The good news is that the study is neither definitive nor applicable to the rest of the country, says the Wall Street Journal. This is the first major study to have detected linkage between fracking and ground-water pollution, and the EPA draft hasn't been peer reviewed by independent scientific analysts. Critics are already picking apart the study, which Wyoming Governor Matt Mead called "scientifically questionable."

U.S., Israel Discuss Triggers for Bombing Iran’s Nuclear Infrastructure
Excerpt: When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opined earlier this month that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could “consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret,” the Israelis went ballistic behind the scenes. Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, lodged a formal diplomatic protest known as a demarche. And the White House was thrust into action, reassuring the Israelis that the administration had its own “red lines” that would trigger military action against Iran, and that there is no need for Jerusalem to act unilaterally. (If I were the Israelis, I wouldn’t trust the administration to follow through on its promises. And, if I did plan to take out Iranian nuclear facilities, I WOULDN’T tell the administration until mere minutes before I did it because it’s a foregone conclusion that they’d instantly tell the Iranians or the press or both. This lack of trust between us and the Israelis is no accident; the administration worked long and hard to achieve it, aided and abetted by the MSM’s constant portrayal of the Israelis as aggressors. The simplest and safest thing we could have done to help defuse the rush to an Iranian bomb would have been to support the Greens back in 2009 and 2010, but instead, the administration wanted to give the mullahs a hug. Alas, that opportunity has surely passed. Now, it’s just a question of “when.” Ron P.)

Wait Times for Surgery Vault to Record High in Canada
Excerpt: Canadians seeking surgical or other therapeutic treatment faced a median wait time of 19.0 weeks in 2011, the longest wait time since 1993 when the Fraser Institute first began measuring wait times. The median surgical wait time in 2011 jumped to 19.0 weeks from 18.2 weeks in 2010, exceeding the previous all-time high of 18.3 weeks recorded in 2007, according to the 21st annual edition of Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, released by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian free market public policy think tank.

The Case for Newt Gingrich: How easily his great and solid conservative achievements are forgotten. By Peter Ferrara
Excerpt: Gingrich's rebellion against Bush's 1990 betrayal of Reaganomics was his finest hour. That leadership is what led to the House Republican takeover in 1994. If conservatives and supply-siders do not rally around Gingrich now, and allow the Bush crowd to win with Romney, Reaganism will have been routed out of the Republican Party. Undoubtedly, John Sununu will pick Romney's budget director (remember his pick of Supreme Court Justice David Souter over the conservative alternative that would have given conservatives a firm majority on the Court). The first thing Romney will do if elected is exactly the reprise of the 1990 tax increase budget deal for which the Washington establishment that will run a Romney Administration is always pining. That will require another round of Democrats in the White House before conservatives can even get a chance at winning again, which America cannot survive at this point. (My vote will be decided by who will have the backbones to become deeply unpopular by doing the very painful things needed to repair our fiscal situation and face down the threats of illegal colonization, jihad and China. Having trouble seeing Mitt in that role. ~Bob.)

At West Point, a quiet place to honor warriors
Excerpt: Americans will argue for years over what was won in Iraq. To understand what was lost, come to the U.S. Military Academy cemetery and walk through Section 36, a garden of unrealized potential and thwarted dreams that sits on a windy bluff over the Hudson River.

Are Democrats Using Ron Paul To Create Primary Election Chaos?
Part of how screwed up our nominating system is. ~Bob. Excerpt: Recent polling indicates Republican candidate Ron Paul is receiving close to a majority of his support from voters who don’t affiliate with the Republican party. Could this scenario be an intentional plan to create chaos within the Republican primary race?

The GOP's Answer to Union Money: Achieving parity with the Democrats in campaign spending would be no small feat. Yet it appears possible By Fred Barnes
Excerpt: When Steven Law was deputy secretary of labor in the George W. Bush administration, he routinely scrutinized the disclosure forms of labor unions. Unions had recently been required to report new details about how they spent their members' dues money. Mr. Law discovered that organized labor was contributing millions to a variety of liberal groups—environmentalists, gay-rights advocates and left-wing blogs, among others. For Mr. Law, it was a revelation and a lesson. He concluded that the labor movement had enlarged and strengthened the coalition that helped produce Democratic landslides in 2006 and 2008.

Merry Christmas From Saudi Arabia Holiday greetings from a regime that prohibits Christians from worshipping publicly or wearing crosses. By David Keyes
Excerpt: If you want a good laugh, read the holiday card sent out by Saudi Ambassador to the United States and public relations genius Adel al-Jubeir. Citing a Quranic verse, he writes "Behold, the angels said: 'O Mary, God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God.'" Christmas greetings from an ambassador whose government prohibits Christians from worshiping publicly, building churches, wearing crosses or importing Bibles. Invoking the names of Mary and Jesus while representing a government that this year beheaded Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar and Abdul Hamid Al Fakki for "witchcraft."

The Air Force Grounds Its Officers
Excerpt: This holiday season, the Air Force has "separated" (that is, fired) 157 officers on the eve of their retirement, including pilots flying dangerous missions, to avoid paying their pensions. According to Department of Defense Instructions, those within six years of their 20-year retirement (with no disciplinary blemishes on their record) have the option to remain in service. Nevertheless, the Air Force is committing terminations of airmen a few years away from retirement en masse, citing budget constraints.

Romney in striking distance of Iowa win by Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns
 Excerpt: Don’t look now, but Mitt Romney suddenly seems like the Iowa front-runner. The former Massachusetts governor has carefully tempered expectations in Iowa all year, visiting only a handful of times and saving the bulk of his television spending for the final weeks of the race. But as a crowd of conservative opponents keep the anti-Romney vote divided, his odds of a victory in the state that humbled him four years ago have never been better.

Nelson exit gives Dems bleak outlook by David Catanese
Excerpt: The Nebraska senator's retirement deals a mental and mathematical blow to a party already struggling. ($10 says Nelson doesn’t go home to his beloved Nebraska, instead stays in DC as a high-paid lobbyist. ~Bob.)

Ron Paul’s Destructive Foreign Policy
Excerpt: Rep. Ron Paul believes the United States is a greedy, militaristic empire that brought 9/11 upon itself. He believes that Iran poses no threat to U.S. or Israeli security and that Iran deserves to have a nuclear weapon if it wants one. As for Israel, he does not think it should have ever come into existence as a Jewish state. Nevertheless, Ron Paul, whose crackpot beliefs would be disastrous for the United States and the free world if ever implemented, is a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination.

Hamas leader Haniyeh: Goal is destruction of Israel in stages
Excerpt: At a ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said that Hamas may work for the "interim objective of liberation of Gaza, the West Bank, or Jerusalem," but that this "interim objective" and "reconciliation" with Fatah will not change Hamas' long-term "strategic" goal of eliminating all of Israel:

Ex-Muslim: "These and many other hadeeth and Quranic verses have proclaimed that women are inferior to men and that men have an upper hand on them"
Excerpt: I was always fascinated with the idea of marrying a western non Muslim man who would love, honor and respect me as an equal instead of getting married to some clone of Mohammed. I am sure everyone is aware of his famous words “Women are deficient in their minds” or “I have been to hell and seen it full of women”.

The Year in Obama Scandals -- and Scandal Deniers by Michelle Malkin
Excerpt: With 2011 drawing to a close, it is time to account. As an early-and-often chronicler of Chicago-on-the-Potomac, I am amazed at the stubborn and clingy persistence of President Barack Obama's snowblowers in the media. See no scandal, hear no scandal, speak no scandal.

The economic truth hurts by Len Mead
Excerpt: Did you think Republicans would “raise your payroll taxes” starting in January if no deal had been reached? Do you think unemployment just dropped to only 8.6 percent? If you answered “yes” to these questions, the
Main Street
media has succeeded in deceiving you — and most other busy readers and viewers. Like our economy, truthful journalism has sunk to lows unseen in our lifetimes.

Islamic Muslims will kill you if they can.
Excerpt: The Nigerian Islamic group Boko Haram has proudly claimed the responsibility of the bombing of 5 Churches on Christmas day killing dozens while they gathered to celebrate the birth of Yeshua (Jesus the Holy One of Israel). This is nothing new for Nigeria, Sudan or Ethiopia they have been killing Christians by the tens of thousands yearly for the past few decades with little to nothing being said in the main line media.

Will America lose its dominance of the skies? by Michael Auslin
Excerpt: There were a number of reasons last week to look up to the sky and wonder about the future of airpower. In a world in which the United States will have smaller ground and naval forces, we will likely become more dependent on land- and sea-based airpower to deter or defeat enemies. The proper employment of air assets as part of a joint force allows for nearly instantaneous response to crises, saves American lives, and can bring pinpoint devastation to an enemy's forces and command-and-control systems. Yet along with the sunshine, clouds dot the airpower horizon.

Main Street
New Newt ad.

Police beef up security for Occupy Rose Parade protests
Excerpt: Protesters intend to march with large banners that decry wealth inequality in the United States and to unveil a few colorful "floats" of their own, including a giant people-powered octopus, said Pete Thottam, an Occupy spokesman. (Our next float features a hippie made of azaleas pooping roses on a cop car made of sunflower seeds. –Iowa Hawk.)

99 Percent? Top 25 Occupy Wall Street Backers Worth Over $4 Billion By Paul Wilson
Excerpt: Occupy Wall Street attacks income inequality and the richest 1 percent, adopting as its slogan ''we are the 99 percent.'' In October, its protesters staged a ''millionaires march' 'in New York City, parading to the homes of wealthy citizens such as Rupert Murdoch and David Koch. But only some riches bother the Occupiers, who have ignored the massive wealth of celebrities in their own ranks.

Excerpt: A U.S. Marine officer has told the incredible story of how he survived a street robbery by plugging bullet holes in his body with his fingers. Lieutenant Colonel Karl Trenker, 29, of Miramar, Florida, was shot three times as he confronted two men who had stolen a gold chain from him. He said he used his battlefield training from Afghanistan and Iraq to stem blood from chest wounds by shoving his finger into the gaping wound. (Huh. Back in the “Old Corps” we weren’t allowed to use fingers, had to plug bullet holes by using will power. LOL. Think they got his age wrong. ~Bob.)

Vigil for man who died after Occupy Eugene fight
Excerpt: More than 30 people gathered for a vigil to remember a man who died after a fight in the Occupy Eugene camp. Occupy Eugene leader Kristen Carpenter told KVAL-TV, "We're sorry we couldn't have stopped the violence in the system sooner." She said the Friday night vigil was not just for 54-year-old Rich Youngblood of Florence but also for all victims of street violence. (Remember all the Tea Party rally deaths? Me neither. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) caused a bit of a stir when he announced he was not seeking re-election. Frank, a high-visibility member of Congress for more than 30 years, is in one of the safest Democratic districts in the nation. Yet he is not alone: there are several other Barney Franks fleeing the 112th Congress. Eight other veteran House Democrats who reside in safe congressional seats are throwing in the towel. (If they are safe seats, why retiring? ~Bob.)

2012: A Year of Media Savagery
Excerpt: This time around, the Obama machine cannot run on the fairy dust of hope and change. It cannot suggest after four years of dreadful executive-branch performance, that the promised one is on the horizon. Its only path to victory is the one that finds its opponents even more disliked. So it can be guaranteed that whoever wins the Republican contest will face one of the most scorching personal assaults the country has ever witnessed. (Why is it that the MSM can tell us what marks candidates with an “R” behind their names got in grade school, but can’t find any of Obama’s thesis, early girl friends, or boyhood friends? Why is it so one-sided? Because they’re all on the same side. Ron P.)

Scott Brown haters, consider the alternative
Excerpt: I’d like to address a question to all the people I hear from who tell me how bad U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is, how he’s a turncoat, sellout, backstabbing, snake-in-the-grass Republican in Name Only (RINO). My question is, if Scott Brown is so damn liberal, how come the Democrats already are spending millions upon millions of dollars to knock him out of the Senate next year?

Shutting down power plants: Imaginary benefits, extensive harm
Excerpt: The Environmental Protection Agency claims its “final proposed” Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rules will eliminate toxic pollution from electrical generating units, bring up to $140 billion in annual health benefits, and prevent thousands of premature deaths yearly – all for “only” $11 billion a year in compliance costs. This may be true in the virtual reality of EPA computer models, linear extrapolations, cherry-picked health studies and statistics, government press releases and agency-generated public comments. However, in the real world inhabited by families, employers and other energy users, the new rules will bring few benefits, but will impose extensive costs that the agency chose to minimize or ignore in its analysis. (If there was a woodshed for agencies, this piece’s author would have EPA in it, giving it a well-deserved spanking. Ron P.)

Congress ends corn ethanol subsidy
Excerpt: Congress adjourned for the year on Friday, failing to extend the tax break that's drawn a wide variety of critics on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Critics also have included environmentalists, frozen food producers, ranchers and others. The policies have helped shift millions of tons of corn from feedlots, dinner tables and other products into gas tanks. (...) The subsidy has provided the oil and agribusiness industries with 45 cents per gallon of ethanol blended into gasoline. (So you have a yardstick to measure that 45 cents against: when I was in the gasoline business (about 20 months during 2003-4), the amount of profit we hoped to get was in the range of 8 cents per gallon. We expected the distributor and refiner to each make about the same. When a subsidy is 5.5 times as large as an honest profit, it will distort any marketplace, but especially one whose prices change minute by minute like gasoline’s does. This is good news. Ron P.)

House balance may hinge on court rulings
Excerpt: The 2012 congressional elections are more than 10 months away, but some key votes already have been cast — and not by the electorate. Judges, rather, are playing major roles in reshaping the House landscape this election cycle, as the courts in many states have ruled — or soon will — on disputed redistricting maps in several battleground states.

US Prepared For Military Option Against Iran
Excerpt: The top U.S. military commander says his forces are prepared for a mission against Iran if one proves necessary. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey told CNN that the military option with regard to Iran is “executable if necessary” but it would be “a tragedy for the region and the world.” (Only a tragedy if we fail to flatten their military and nuke capabilities. ~Bob.)

Gunmen kill toddler near Nigeria flashpoint city
Excerpt: Gunmen have shot dead a three-year-old girl and her parents near the volatile central Nigerian city of Jos, a government spokesman and residents said Wednesday. The killing in the Christian-dominated village comes amid growing fears of civil unrest in the country following a deadly string of Christmas attacks claimed by Islamist group Boko Haram.

Pro-Bachmann group defects to Romney
Excerpt: An outside group that had promised to back Michele Bachmann is instead airing ads on behalf of Mitt Romney. The group, Citizens for a Working America, is spending nearly $500,000 on an ad promoting Romney in Iowa, according to FEC documents. News app The Daily first reported the unusual shift. The move may suggest the group's restructured leadership has lost faith in Bachmann's ability to win in the state.

For President in 2012, Mitt Romney
Excerpt: It is time for Republicans to get serious. After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, it is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States, the Executive Branch of the federal government; who has never been touched by the slightest taint of scandal; whose success in the private sector makes him the outsider that Republicans say they are looking for; and who has by far the best chance of beating President Obama: Mitt Romney.

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