Saturday, April 30, 2011

Political Digest for April 30, 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.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

So they’re married
Is it safe to turn the TV back on?

Gasoline Taxes vs. Exxon Profit, Per Gallon
Excerpt: The map above from API shows gasoline taxes by state (combined local, state and federal), which range from a low of 26.4 cents per gallon in Alaska to a high of 66.1 cents per gallon in California, averaging 48.1 cents per gallon across all states. How does that compare to oil company industry profits per gallon? According to this post on Exxon Mobil’s Perspective Blog , “For every gallon of gasoline, diesel or finished products we manufactured and sold in the United States in the last three months of 2010, we earned a little more than 2 cents per gallon. That’s not a typo. Two cents.”

Debt ceiling: More Democrats threaten to vote against raising borrowing limit
Well, then-Democrat Senator Barack Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling, calling it a “failure of leadership.” Apparently these Democrats agree with the ghost of Obama past. ~Bob. Excerpt: A growing number of Democrats are threatening to defy the White House over the national debt, joining Republican calls for deficit cuts as a requirement for consenting to lift the country’s borrowing limit. The tension is the latest illustration of how the tea-party-infused GOP is driving the debate in Washington over federal spending. And it shows how the debt issue is testing the Obama administration’s clout as Democrats, particularly those from politically competitive states, resist White House arguments against setting conditions on legislation to raise the debt ceiling.

Obama escapes blame for the economy, but he can’t escape the economy
Inherited them—from Democrat spending/statist policies he supported as a senator. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama continues to dodge taking the blame for causing the country’s economic problems, but people are more than happy to blame him for failing to pull the nation “out of the ditch” fast enough. New polling from Marist College for McClatchy newspapers shows Obama’s approval on the economy hitting a new low, with just 40 percent of voters now approving of the job he’s done. His disapproval is also at a new high, 57 percent. At the same time, voters continue to ascribe the financial crisis to Obama’s predecessors, with just 30 percent saying the problems are mostly a result of his policies, and another 63 percent saying he inherited them.

The Consumer Benefits of Electric Power Competition
Excerpt: For most of the 20th century, electric power was generated by utilities with legally protected monopolies in geographically defined service territories and sold to captive consumers at state-regulated rates. Meanwhile, in the 1970s and 1980s, deregulation of other network or utility-type industries -- including natural gas, telecommunications, airlines, trucking and railroads -- reduced prices at least 25 percent below prereform levels. This experience led to expectations that electric power competition would provide similar consumer benefits. Thus, beginning in the late 1990s, a number of states restructured their retail power markets, say Carl Johnston, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Lynne Kiesling, a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics at Northwestern University. Restructuring generally means that prices are set competitively, utilities shed generating plants and transmission lines, and consumers have a choice of providers. Two-thirds of the U.S. population lives in states that have introduced competition and choice. Electricity prices in these states reflect the actual cost of production better than politically determined rates. Overall, electricity prices have adjusted more quickly in restructured states to changes in fuel costs and demand than in unrestructured states. As a result, in response to market demand as indicated by price, restructured states have added efficiency improvements, plant upgrades, additional generation and transmission capacity at a faster pace than nonrestructured states. In competitive markets, consumers may pay less for electricity than they once did under monopoly -- for example, Texas retail customers in some competitive markets paid up to one-third less in 2010 than in 2001, after adjusting for inflation. However, many states are not ready for the revolution. Among the steps necessary to realize the potential of the new technologies and markets: Continue the process of state restructuring. Allow retail market competition. Devolve or divest federal power generating and transmission assets. Build a national transmission grid. Give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the authority to site long-distance transmission lines. Implement smart technologies. Avoid preferential subsidies or mandates for particular forms of energy.

The Case against President Obama's Health Care Reform
Executive Summary: Multiple challenges to President Obama’s health care reform are percolating through the federal courts. Soon the Supreme Court will be asked to weigh in on perhaps the most im­portant question of the post–New Deal era: Are there any remaining limits on the breadth and scope of federal power? Reinforced by decades of Court decisions that have gutted the Framers’ original concep­tion of limited government, the Obama ad­ministration has embraced an unprecedented expansion of centralized control. This paper addresses the Patient Protection and Afford­able Care Act, which includes a mandate that individuals either purchase a government-pre­scribed health insurance policy or pay a penalty. The Department of Health and Human Ser­vices has asserted three constitutional provi­sions as sources of authority for the mandate—the Taxing Power, the Commerce Clause, and the Necessary and Proper Clause. Each of those purported sources is deficient. First, the penalty for not buying health insur­ance is not a tax. Even if the penalty were a tax, it would fail the constitutional requirements for income, excise, or direct taxes. Second, the power to regulate interstate commerce extends only to economic activities; it does not permit Congress to compel such activities in order to regulate them. Third, the mandate is not necessary; in­deed, it is merely a means to circumvent prob­lems that would not exist if not for PPACA itself. Nor is the mandate proper; it cannot be recon­ciled with the Framers’ original design for a lim­ited federal government of enumerated powers. An essential aspect of liberty is the freedom not to participate. PPACA’s directive that Amer­icans buy an unwanted product from a private company debases individual liberty. And it’s unconstitutional.

Green Energy: Don’t Envy Germany
Excerpt: Needless to say, this massive subsidization of wind and solar power attracted a lot of investors: after all, if the government is going to guarantee a market for several decades, and set a price high enough for renewable producers to make a profit, capital will flow into the market. Germany became the second-largest producer of wind energy after the United States, and its investment in solar power was aggressive as well. But, according to Frondel, things haven’t worked out as Germany’s politicians and environmentalists said they would. Rather than bringing economic benefits in terms of lower cost energy and a proliferation of green energy jobs, Frondel found that implementing wind and solar power raised household energy rates by 7.5 percent. Further, while greenhouse gas emissions were abated, the cost was astonishingly high: more than $1,000 per ton for solar power, and more than $80 per ton for wind power. Given that the carbon price in the European Trading system was about $19 per ton at the time, greenhouse gas emissions from wind and solar were not great investments.

High Quality Can Coexist with Lower Cost
Excerpt: High-quality hospitals deliver lower-cost care to trauma patients, according to a study published in the Annals of Surgery. The study found high-quality hospitals have death rates that are 34 percent lower, while spending nearly 22 percent less on trauma patient care than average-quality hospitals, suggesting high quality can coexist with lower cost. One possible explanation for the new finding is that higher-quality hospitals may have fewer patient complications compared with lower-quality hospitals. Potentially preventable complications have been shown to result in greater rates of death, hospital length of stay and cost, so fewer complications could translate into cost savings. "There is a growing recognition that, when it comes to health care, we have a quality problem in this country," says Laurent G. Glance, M.D., lead study author and professor of Anesthesiology and Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Glance's team analyzed data from the largest inpatient database in the United States, focusing on 67,124 patients admitted to 73 trauma centers across the country in 2006. Most patients were between 40 and 50 years old, male and admitted to a trauma center following a car crash, fall, gunshot or stab wound, or other type of serious injury.

Boehner rejects oil-subsidy vote
Oil is a world market. The more taxes the companies pay, the more they charge for gas. Duh. ~Bob. Excerpt: As the country's largest oil companies report near-record profits, the office of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) rejected on Thursday Democratic calls to consider legislation eliminating billions of dollars in tax breaks for the same corporations. “The Speaker wants to increase the supply of American energy to lower gas prices and create millions of American jobs," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email. "Raising taxes will not do that."

Obama’s Millionaire Obsession
Excerpt: With less than 19 months left before the next presidential election, Barack Obama has kicked off his campaign, doing coast-to-coast "town hall" meetings last week. At the top of President Obama's re-election strategy is what appears to be a personal jihad against America's "millionaires and billionaires," many of whom, he seems to think, are—there's no other word for it—un-American. So naturally the place he picked to pitch an assault on the wealthy was the Silicon Valley headquarters of Facebook, a place filled with millionaires and billionaires. As has become his habit, Mr. Obama pulled his audience into his narrative by personalizing public policy. And so it was with his Facebook host, Mark Zuckerberg.

Don't Look Now, But Obama Is Unloved Here And Abroad
Excerpt: In the Bush years, poll results that showed the American people losing confidence in their president were featured routinely on the front page of major newspapers like the Washington Post. But when the Post discovers that President Obama's ratings are collapsing, you need a search party to find where inside the paper they're buried.

Barney Frank touts tort reform, higher co-pays as ways to trim budget
Excerpt: Liberal firebrand Barney Frank (D-Mass.) broke with party orthodoxy on Tuesday by calling for restrictions on lawsuits against doctors and hospitals that experts think contribute to the nation's growing healthcare costs.

Study Shows Litigation Doesn’t Improve Nursing Home Safety
Excerpt: A New England Journal of Medicine article casts yet more doubt on one of the cherished concepts underpinning the U.S. litigation system: That lawsuits improve patient care.

How California can add jobs, and prosper as Texas does
With the lawyers and unions party in charge, states like California and Illinois will continue to lose jobs. ~Bob. Excerpt: When our company recently expanded the number of its restaurants in Texas, I was startled to receive a call from Gov. Rick Perry thanking me for our decision. In the 10 years I've been CEO of CKE Restaurants, no governor had ever made such a gesture. Perry went further during our conversation and asked what it would take to move our headquarters from California to Texas. This is a question weighing on many California CEOs right now. Do we grow our businesses here where the tax and regulatory hurdles remain high, or do we relocate to a more business-friendly state like Texas?

Excerpt: In recent days, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has used its army to murder hundreds of innocent civilians as part of a vicious campaign of violence against unarmed Syrian demonstrators. What we are witnessing in Syria is another tragic outrage in the Middle East that requires immediate condemnation backed by specific measures from the United States and the international community. U.S. President Barack Obama needs to make clear whose side America is on, back up our rhetoric with action, and clearly articulate why Syria matters to the United States. Clearly, we should be on the side of the Syrian people longing for freedom and challenging the regime's corrupt and repressive rule. Unfortunately, the Obama administration's hesitancy to weigh in has been mistaken for indecision at best and indifference at worst.

Worth Reading: The Obama doctrine: Leading from behind
Excerpt: Obama may be moving toward something resembling a doctrine. One of his advisers described the president’s actions in Libya as “leading from behind.” — Ryan Lizza, the New Yorker, May 2 issue. To be precise, leading from behind is a style, not a doctrine. Doctrines involve ideas, but since there are no discernible ones that make sense of Obama foreign policy — Lizza’s painstaking two-year chronicle shows it to be as ad hoc, erratic and confused as it appears — this will have to do. And it surely is an accurate description, from President Obama’s shocking passivity during Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution to his dithering on Libya, acting at the very last moment, then handing off to a bickering coalition, yielding the current bloody stalemate. It’s been a foreign policy of hesitation, delay and indecision, marked by plaintive appeals to the (fictional) “international community” to do what only America can.

Excerpt: In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, Janet Murguía had an ostensibly sensible enough op-ed, “Hispanic Values Are American Values” — arguing that Americans wrongly see “Latinos” as “foreigners,” “aliens,” and “others.” “It’s time for people to stop thinking about Latinos as “foreigners”, “aliens”, or “others” and start thinking of us as their fellow workers, classmates, colleagues, worshipers, neighbors, friends, and families.” Aside from the fact that some 10–14 million “Latinos” are, in fact, “aliens,” as properly described by legal statute rather than prejudicial slurs, the essay is a good-hearted reminder that few Americans should wish to see anyone separated by racial divides. But why then, a mere eight lines below that noble sentiment, does Ms. Murguía sign off as “President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza”? I cannot think of any more divisive notion than an American lobbying group self-identifying itself as “The National Council of ‘the Race.’”

In theory, Libya was supposed to save lives, use the military for humanitarianism rather than mere national interests, showcase a new multilateral internationalism, enhance the reputations of organizations like the U.N. and the Arab League, contrast Obama’s careful planning with the plagued Iraqi occupation, reveal Europe as a full strategic partner, and bolster the national-security credentials of the U.S. As of now, the misadventure has had the opposite effect on all counts:

Climate Change This Week: Apple Named 'Least Green' Tech Co.
Apple aficionados are a loyal bunch, and with good cause. From iPads and iPods to iPhones and Macs, the tech company -- which posted 95 percent growth in its latest quarterly earnings -- must be doing something right. For all the colorful apps Apple offers, however, it seems one color that's missing is green. Last week, Greenpeace named Apple the least green tech company in the world, thanks to "dirty data" centers. As the UK's Guardian opines, "Greenpeace's report, How Dirty is Your Data? reveals that the company's investment in a new North Carolina facility will triple its electricity consumption, equivalent to the electricity demand of 80,000 average US homes." Indeed, the facility's power will draw on "a mix of 62% coal and 32% nuclear." (Incidentally, as The Heartland Institute points out, the U.S. Department of Energy itself praises coal, calling it "the workhorse of the nation's electric power industry, supplying more than half the electricity consumed by Americans.") Still, those of the monochromatic political ideology would rather stifle productivity altogether than benefit from "dirty" coal. In fact, one would think Al "It's Not Easy Being Green" Gore would be the first to call for Apple to cease and desist its dirty ways given that he's on Apple's Board of Directors. Ah, the irony.

The Wisconsin Witch Hunt Goes National
Is this the new normal in politics? Two can play. Meanwhile, buy these products. ~Bob. Excerpt: On May 1, left-wing vigilantes will target companies across the country that have committed a mortal sin: sending donations to GOP Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Rest assured, such intolerable acts of political free speech will not go unpunished by tolerant Big Labor activists. They're calling for both a national boycott of Walker's corporate donors and a coordinated sticker vandalism campaign on GOP-tainted products. The Wisconsin Grocers Association is bracing for the anti-Walker witch hunt. Anonymous operatives have circulated sabotage stickers on the Internet and around Wisconsin that single out Angel Soft tissue paper ("Wiping your (expletive) on Wisconsin workers"), Johnsonville Sausage ("These Brats Bust Unions") and Coors ("Labor Rights Flow Away Like A Mountain Stream"). Earlier this week, a "Stick It To Walker" website boasted photos of vandalized Angel Soft tissue packages at a Super Foodtown grocery store in Brooklyn, N.Y.

That 3 a.m. Phone Call
Excerpt: Now, Hillary admitted to Ryan Lizza that people are being killed all over the world by nasty dictatorships. But she knew we needed to act in Libya. "People are being killed in Cote d'Ivoire; they're being killed in the Eastern Congo," she acknowledged over breakfast with Lizza. "What is the standard?" Apparently, the standard is that we will intervene only if the U.S. has no vital interest in the threatened area and only if the victims are Muslims and not Christians.

Born To Be Mild
Excerpt: As applied to the Syrian situation, that duality implied that Obama would always show a two-sided coin. He will exhibit “modesty” towards Assad and show “military strength” — but elsewhere. How the two are connected has not yet been explained. A cynic might characterize the characterization of “leading from behind” as the most flattering description of opportunism that anyone has ever had the temerity to articulate. It justifies, in advance, any action the president might choose to take, appealing to his greater wisdom and unimpeachable intellect.

Somali Human Smuggler Sentenced to 10 Years
Excerpt: A Somali man who knowingly smuggled people tied to a terrorist group into the United States received a 10-year prison sentence Thursday afternoon. Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane pleaded guilty in November to two counts of making false statements on his 2008 application. On the application, Dhakane failed to report his connections to two terrorist organizations and that he ran a smuggling operation out of a hotel in Brazil which brought members of one of those terrorist groups into the U.S.

Rifts in Iran’s Leadership. Plus: Secret Meetings with Obama Admin?
Excerpt: According to reports, last month Heydar Moslehi — the former minister of Intelligence — presented an extensive report on Ahmadinejad’s political and economic activities to Khamenei. In addition, the report is said to have contained information on a number of serious violations. In late January/early February, a group calling itself “a trade association” — all of its members belong to security forces close to Ahmadinejad — traveled to Dubai. The group’s announced intentions were to cozy up to a trade association of Iranians in Dubai, and to reveal a plan to open a special office for their economic activities. However, reports claim that they also held clandestine meetings with two American officials with political and military connections. (…) The Ministry of Industries delivered a classified report to the Iranian parliament and an official memo to the Ministry of Intelligence, both of which stated their inability to explain or justify oil contracts with China and Malaysia. They admitted they had no information on any of the details of the contracts, and declared they had no involvement with these deals. Then, during the last week of February, a classified report from the Ministry of Petroleum tipped off the Energy Commission within the Iranian parliament: a substantial amount of fuel had been exported by the Revolutionary Guards to the Chinese via underwater pipelines in the Persian Gulf (Kish Island). The Ministry of Petroleum acknowledged a $3 billion oil sale discrepancy, which could not be accounted for.

In Shift, Egypt Warms to Iran and Hamas, Israel’s Foes
Excerpt: Egypt’s shifts are likely to alter the balance of power in the region, allowing Iran new access to a previously implacable foe and creating distance between itself and Israel, which has been watching the changes with some alarm. “We are troubled by some of the recent actions coming out of Egypt,” said one senior Israeli official, citing a “rapprochement between Iran and Egypt” as well as “an upgrading of the relationship between Egypt and Hamas.”  “These developments could have strategic implications on Israel’s security,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the issues were still under discussion in diplomatic channels. “In the past Hamas was able to rearm when Egypt was making efforts to prevent that. How much more can they build their terrorist machine in Gaza if Egypt were to stop?”

Is Ayaan Hirsi Ali a racist? She was born in Somalia, from which she escaped to avoid an arranged marriage, and she eventually became a member of Parliament in the Netherlands. She helped produce a film with Theo Van Gogh which criticized Islam's treatment of women. Van Gogh was shot to death by a Muslim in retaliation, and a note was pinned to his chest with a knife — a note that threatened Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The War on Walmart: Who's Afraid of Cheap Groceries?
Hilarious: There is a woman at about 1:03 in this Video who says Walmart gives children criminal records because the children go into Walmart and steal things. Not making this up. –Kate.

Three Convicted in Terror-Related Cases Later Granted U.S. Citizenship by Obama Administration
Excerpt: Three people convicted of crimes as a result of a terrorism-related investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) were later naturalized as U.S. citizens by the Obama administration, according to federal auditors. The March 2011 audit (released on April 21, 2011) by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), entitled Criminal Alien Statistics: Information on Incarcerations, Arrests and Costs, shows that three individuals were among “defendants where the investigation involved an identified link to international terrorism but they were charged with violating other statutes [not directly related to terrorism], including fraud, immigration, drugs, false statements, and general conspiracy charges,” referred by DOJ as Category II terrorism-related cases. The three individuals in question can be found in a DOJ list of unsealed terrorism-related investigations conducted from Sept. 11, 2001 through Mar. 18, 2010. There are 403 defendants on that list of which, according to the GAO, at least 43 percent were aliens--both legal (26 percent) and illegal (17 percent)--at the time they were charged with crimes. (Citizenship? Why were they even allowed to remain within our borders after completing whatever minor punishment was meted out for their crimes? Why weren’t they issued an inflatable boat, two oars, a week’s rations of food and water, and transportation 300 miles due east in the Atlantic or due west in the Pacific, whichever is closer to the land of origin? Ron P. You kind-hearted liberal! Shooting would be cheaper and discourage others. ~Bob.)

The Issue of the Hour from The Goldberg File by Jonah Goldberg
Frankly, I'm perfectly happy Obama released his birth certificate. I always thought that the only thing worse than the birthers being wrong would be the birthers being right. Igniting a whacky constitutional crisis because Barack Obama spent a few weeks or months in Kenya as an infant seemed like madness to me. Throwing out the first black president in the middle of his presidency would be absurdly difficult, painful, and counterproductive in every way, dredging up a level of biliousness this country has rarely if ever seen. And at the end of the process, even if a "birther Congress" could have successfully impeached and removed the guy for being ineligible, we would have . . . President Joe Biden.

Big labor leaders mum while Bay State Dems launch attack on collective bargaining rights
Excerpt: In the traditionally far-left Massachusetts statehouse, House Democrats passed legislation this week that strips municipal public sector workers of their right to collectively bargain on health insurance plans. The bill has yet to make it to the state Senate or Gov. Deval Patrick, but national labor leaders like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, National Education Association (NEA) President and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry don’t seem eager to get involved. Notorious left-wing advocate and filmmaker Michael Moore hasn’t showed up or weighed in either, nor has self-proclaimed civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Arab Spring and U.S. Policy: The View From Jerusalem
Excerpt: Israeli officials want a public commitment from Washington to protect the Saudi regime should it come under threat. It is provocative, but not entirely inaccurate, to suggest that U.S. foreign policy these past few months has been sufficiently erratic to make America's allies reconsider the degree to which we can be trusted—and our adversaries re-evaluate the degree to which we must be feared. The canary in the coal mine on such matters is Israel. None of America's allies is more sensitive to even the most subtle changes in the international environment, or more conscious of the slightest hint of diminished support from Washington.

Obama's Silence on Boeing Is Unacceptable by Nikki Haley
Excerpt: The president's appointees have moved to block the company from building planes in my state. He owes us an explanation In October 2009, Boeing, long one of the best corporations in America, made an announcement that changed the economic outlook of South Carolina forever: The company's second line of 787 Dreamliners would be produced in North Charleston. In choosing to manufacture in my state, Boeing was exercising its right as a free enterprise in a free nation to conduct business wherever it believed would best serve both the bottom line and the employees of its company. This is not a novel or complicated idea. It's called capitalism. Boeing has since poured billions of dollars into a new, state-of-the art facility in South Carolina's picturesque Low Country along the Atlantic coast. It has created thousands of good jobs and joined the long tradition of distinguished and employee-friendly corporations that have found a home, and a partner, in the Palmetto State.

Apprehensions of illegal aliens at the border are way down…why?
Excerpt: Seems like every where you look these days US Customs and Border Protection is touting statistics that apprehensions of illegal aliens is way down from previous levels. The other day at the meeting between border ranchers and the Border Patrol it was noted that apprehensions in the Nogales Station area had dropped from something like 1,000 a day to 50. Of course the story spin from the Department of Homeland Security is that the much higher numbers of Border Patrol agents deployed in the region is why apprehension levels are way down. But there are many competing theories why the number of illegal aliens being caught in the Tucson Sector has dropped significantly.

'Change' via executive power grab
Excerpt: Having lost the House of Representatives in the last election, the Obama administration is now imposing "fundamental change" via executive order, regulatory fiat and political pressure. Talk about the unitary executive:

Excerpt: Two members of an extremist group open fire at the car of Rev Ashraf Paul in Lahore. His 24-year-old son is critically wounded but is now out of danger. In Faisalabad, a police officer rapes a 24-year-old woman over four days.

Blast kills 14 in Marrakesh cafe
Excerpt: A powerful blast ripped through a cafe in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh on Thursday, killing 11 foreigners and three Moroccans in what authorities suspect was the work of a suicide bomber.

University campuses are 'hotbeds of Islamic extremism'
They’d be happy to spy if the students were in the EDF. Don’t want to be non-PC—death is better. ~Bob. Excerpt: Islamic fundamentalism is being allowed to flourish at universities, endangering national security, MPs and peers said yesterday. Academics are turning a blind eye to radicals because they do not want to spy on students, a report claimed. Despite "damning evidence" of a serious problem, little progress had been made in tackling the unsustainable situation, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homeland Security said.

Tea Party Presidential poll
Long. ~Bob

The Troubling Past and Frightening Future of Jihad, Part 2
Excerpt: Over the years, I've returned many times to Egypt, the land of my birth. That land has changed dramatically since my boyhood. In recent years, this formerly secular and religiously tolerant nation has become a hotbed of Islamic extremism. Though there has been political repression in Egypt throughout my lifetime, the one benefit of that repression is that Muslims, Jews, and Coptic Christians lived together in relative peace and security. Today, however, the peace and security of Egypt have been shaken. Radical, fundamentalist Islam is grabbing for power in Egypt. The radicalization of Egypt was vividly illustrated for me during my most recent visit to the Mediterranean resort city of Alexandria. There, men and women still go to the beach as they did when I was a boy—but now they do so in full Islamic garb. For decades, anti-Western, anti-Israel, anti-Christian militancy has been on the rise across the Muslim world.

They Raped Me with their Hands: Lara Logan Reveals Terrifying Details of Mob Sex Attack in Egypt
Excerpt: She told the New York Times: 'For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands...What really struck me was how merciless they were. 'They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.'

Foul-Mouthed Far Left Thugs Disrupt Another Allen West Town Hall
Excerpt: Foul-mouthed far left goons were kicked out of Allen West’s town hall last night. The activists flipped off and swore at the crowd as they were escorted from the building.

Obama Administration punishes reporter for using multimedia
Excerpt: The hip, transparent and social media-loving Obama administration is showing its analog roots. And maybe even some hypocrisy highlights. White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news. The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci - who, like many contemporary reporters, has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times - pulled out a small video camera last week and shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.

Oil Industry Fat Cats
Who gets those “obscene profits”?

SBY: Save Our Nation From Radicalization
Excerpt: In a rare acknowledgment that religious-based violence posed a serious threat to the nation, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on Indonesians not to rely on the police but to help to stamp out extremism’s spread from inside their communities. “Our nation faces a continuous and serious threat in terrorism and in horizontal violence,” he said on Thursday while addressing a National Development Planning Meeting in Jakarta.

VIDEO: Buddhists in Thailand Finally Fight Back. Media Fail to Celebrate.

Excerpt: After years of murder, torture, rape and horror by Muslims to the Buddhists in the ‘restive’ areas of Thailand (Video not available since youtube closed my channel, will try and replace it) Buddhists are doing something they learned the very hard way. “The way of peace cannot work against those who have closed hearts” (paraphrasing the Dalai Lama on Islam) These Buddhists have formed militias in cooperation with local police and are attempting to protect themselves, their culture, history, religion, women, nation and ancestral homes against an invading Islam. Here is the video from the AP:

The 91-Year-Old Woman Selling $60 Suicide Kits
Excerpt: A shadowy online company selling suicide kits recently claimed its first confirmed victim. Winston Ross talks exclusively with the entrepreneur behind it: a grieving 91-year-old woman. The paramedics who showed up to Nick Klonoski’s house on Highland Drive four months ago discovered the 29-year-old’s lifeless body, covered up to the neck by a blanket. It was his brother Jake, detectives learned, who’d found Nick lying in his bed less than an hour beforehand, a clear plastic bag over his head, and a plastic tube running from the bag to an orange metal helium tank. Next to the tank was a white box, decorated with a butterfly, the box the plastic bag and tube had arrived in the mail in, with a book titled Final Exit inside. “Is it the book and the kit?” asked the first police officers to arrive on the scene. The paramedics nodded knowingly. “Yep.”

247 People On Terror Watch List Bought Guns In U.S. Last Year
Excerpt: More than 200 people suspected of ties to terrorism bought guns in the U.S. last year legally, FBI figures show. The 247 people who were allowed to buy weapons did so after going through required background checks as required by federal law. It is not illegal for people listed on the government's terror watch list to buy weapons. For years, that has bothered Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who is trying again to change the law to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

What would Machiavelli do?
Excerpt: For a really devastating critique of Barack Obama check out Walter Russell Mead’s American Interest blogpost “Falling Between Two Stools.” It’s particularly devastating, since Mead is not part of any right-wing attack machine—he voted (I believe) for Obama and he sympathizes with many (but not all) of his policies—and in much of his writing he has shown a sympathetic understanding of those on many points of the political spectrum. Here his harshest criticism is directed not at Obama’s policy goals but at the way he does business. Key paragraph: “Here is the paradox we face: The President is a consensus-seeker whose decision making style rewards polarization and a conciliator who loses friends without winning over enemies.”

Friday, April 29, 2011

Political Digest for April 29, 2011

I’m on the road, but grabbing a few minutes on-line to pull a few items.

Deficit Spending
We are headed for disaster, and any politician who tries to stop it will get trashed by the media and other party for cutting essential things. See Ryan, Paul. ~Bob. Excerpt: The federal government ran record peacetime budget deficits in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, 10 percent and 9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), respectively, and anticipated another deficit of 10 percent in 2011. The federal government's borrowing in 2009 and 2010 took up amounts equal to 60 percent and 49 percent of the economy's gross private savings, respectively. The dollar volume of federal debt held by the public doubled between the end of September 2007 and the end of December 2010. The ratio of debt to GDP reached 62 percent, the first time the federal-debt-to-GDP ratio had exceeded 50 percent since just after World War II, says Lawrence H. White, a professor of economics at George Mason University. A large share of the federal debt growth in 2007-2010 was cyclical, due to a deep recession that reduced federal revenues and automatically triggered some additional spending. But a sizable part of the debt growth was non-cyclical or structural, as indicated by the federal budget having been in deficit for 36 out the most recent 40 years. By 2020, debt would equal nearly 90 percent of GDP; after that, the growing imbalance between revenues and noninterest spending, combined with the spiraling cost of interest payments, would swiftly push federal debt to unsustainable levels. Debt held by the public would exceed its historical peak of about 110 percent of GDP by 2025 and would reach about 180 percent of GDP in 2035. A growing level of federal debt would also increase the probability of a sudden fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose confidence in the government's ability to manage its budget, and the government would thereby lose its ability to borrow at affordable rates, says White.

Some Church Groups Form Sharing Ministries To Cover Members' Medical Costs
Excerpt: Although the ministries say that they're not providing health insurance and are therefore exempt from state insurance regulations, states sometimes beg to differ. Concerned that members may believe such ministries guarantee coverage of their medical bills, regulators have at times tried to shut them down.

Very interesting: The Sustainable Development Hoax
Excerpt: “Sustainable Development” (SD) is basically a slogan without a specific meaning. Linked to Earth Day (April 22), it masquerades as a call for clean air, green energy, and suggests a pristine bucolic existence for us and our progeny—forever. But in reality, it has become immensely useful to many groups who use the slogan to advance their own special agenda, whatever they may be. The term itself was invented by Gro Harlem Bruntlandt, a Norwegian socialist politician and former prime minister. After her term there, she landed in Paris and, together with Club of Rome veteran Alexander King, began publicizing SD. Indeed, the concept is a successor to the neo-Malthusian theme of the Club of Rome, which began to take hold around 1970 and led to the notorious book Limits to Growth. In turn, the “Limits to Growth” concept was developed a few years earlier by U.S. geologists like Preston Cloud and King Hubbert. In a report published by a panel of the National Academy, they promoted the view that the world was running out of resources: food, fuels, and minerals. According to their views, and those of the Club of Rome and Limits to Growth, most important metals should have become unavailable before the end of the 20th century.

Excerpt: QE2 is a departure from the Fed’s usual procedures, which aim primarily to affect short-term interest rates through purchases of short-term (less than a year in maturity) Treasury bonds, or T-bills. This tool of monetary policy, known as open-market operations (OMO), has largely been on the sidelines for the past two years, since the Fed drove the key short-term rate to near zero in late 2008 and has kept it there. The Fed turned to QE that year because the Great Recession was so severe. QE1 was primarily aimed at buying up MBS, many of which were considered “toxic” due to mortgages that were unlikely to be repaid. These MBS were like albatrosses around the necks of many banks, leading the Fed to try to help by taking these liabilities off their hands. Astonishingly, through $1.75 trillion of such purchases, the Fed increased the monetary base (currency plus bank reserves) by nearly 200 percent between December 2008 and March 2010. However, rather than stimulating the economy through increased lending, much of that new money has remained idle, locked up in vaults as banks have been unwilling and often unable to lend.

Who Subsidizes Whom in Higher Education?
Excerpt: Conventional wisdom holds that colleges and universities heavily subsidize their students. This assertion seems correct, given that total spending per student is almost always in excess of per student tuition payments. However, the conventional wisdom is wrong because it inappropriately compares only one revenue source -- tuition payments -- to total institutional spending, says Andrew Gillen, research director, Matthew Denhart, administrative director, and Jonathan Robe, a research associate, with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Such a comparison is seriously misleading because institutional spending encompasses far more than just the educational expenditures that tuition revenues are ostensibly designed to cover. The more logical comparison is between what colleges and universities are paid to provide an education versus what those institutions actually spend to provide that education. In many cases student tuition and third-party payments on behalf of students easily cover the portion of spending that is actually used for educational activities. Between 52 percent and 76 percent of all students attend institutions where educational payments exceed educational spending. For four-year students, this figure is between 59 percent and 87 percent, and for two-year students, it is between 24 percent and 63 percent. In other words, not only are most students not being subsidized by their college, but most colleges are able to divert money towards non-educational activities, all the while claiming that this spending is for the benefit of students. Convincing people that you are giving them a big discount when you are doing no such thing is not a new idea. What is new is its application to and celebration within higher education, say Gillen, Denhart and Robe.

Economic growth slows to 1.8% in first months of 2011
Thank you Jimmy Carter Obama. ~Bob. Excerpt: Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, rose at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the January through March period, down sharply from the 3.1 percent pace of growth in the final quarter of last year. Economists had forecast 2 percent growth.
Rep. Heller appointed to Ensign seat
Excerpt: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) announced Wednesday he will appoint Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to fill Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) seat.
Sandoval praised Heller as "a fiscal conservative who believes in limited government" and rejected the notion of naming a "caretaker" to fill Ensign's seat. 

Now, can we get on with the real debate?
Note this editorial in a conservative publication. Yes, nothing has helped Obama more than the birthers, by diverting attention from the issues. No court will overturn an election, especially when it would create riots and murders in the cities. But the birthers will persist; probably will get him reelected in 2012. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama loves to broad-brush his opposition as a bunch of mean-spirited ideologues who are so divorced from reality that they won't be swayed by indisputable facts. Nothing has helped him more in painting this picture of his critics than the unfortunate proliferation of self-taught experts in 1960s Hawaiian vital records. Beginning in June 2008, when Obama released his short-form birth certificate in order to quell spurious rumors about his "real" middle name, the people we have come to know as birthers decided they knew better than their own eyes. Perhaps emboldened by the blogosphere's successful debunking in 2004 of Dan Rather's fake documents questioning President George W. Bush's National Guard service, the birthers sought to re-create this achievement, except this time the facts were not on their side. Obama's short-form birth certificate -- the one released in 2008 -- was and is valid for all legal purposes under Hawaiian law. It proved Obama's birthplace and citizenship as well as any other American's birth certificate. But over a three-year period, birthers cast doubt in some quarters about the legitimacy of Obama's citizenship, ignoring that the burden of proof was and always has been on them, not on the president. They brought forth no proof to dispute Obama, but they did bring multiple frivolous lawsuits. Even a few members of our armed forces bought into the birther con game and refused to obey orders from their commander in chief. Some publications irresponsibly championed their cause.

The Birth Certificate
Excerpt: Will this end the controversy over Obama’s birthplace? Probably not. The birth certificate debate is going to become like a wrangle over the authenticity of a religious relic or an eternal mystery object, like the Grassy Knoll or Area 51. Most documents are accepted based on trust, not their physical characteristics. We are offered a dollar and take it unless some previous predisposition makes us examine in with special light, do serial number checks or look for security threads. For the most part trust suffices. Since the birth certificate is unlikely to be subjected to tests for age of paper, ink intensities or compared to a reconstruction of all the serial numbers, all the skeptics are ever going to have is a glimpse of Obama’s dollar. That is all most of us have: an assertion of authenticity by normally trusted authorities. Obama’s supporters will argue that any demand for further proof — tests that we ourselves would not routinely be subjected to — is tantamount to treating him like a felon. It springs from a pre-existing bias. They would be right. The reason people have been looking for the birth certificate isn’t because they mistrust official birth certificates in general. It is because they mistrust Obama.

Excerpt: Must America's "hate crimes" brigade rush to judgment before all the facts are in? Apparently they must, but that's exactly what you'd expect from people who want to criminalize thoughts, not actions. And nothing illustrates the rush-to-judgment mentality more than what happened in a Baltimore-area McDonald's in mid-April. … Quick, when was the last time you ever heard any of these "hate crimes" folks call for "hate crimes" charges to be lodged against so-called "people of color" whose victims were white? (Probably worth noting that the writer is a respected black columnist. ~Bob.)

The rise of the cybersecurity-industrial complex
Excerpt: The $100 billion Washington will spend on cybersecurity in the next decade may be less about guarding America from a real threat, and more about enriching revolving-door lobbyists and satisfying pork-hungry politicians. A new working paper by Mercatus Center authors Jerry Brito and Tate Watkins makes the case that "the rhetoric of 'cyber doom' employed by proponents of increased federal intervention ... lacks clear evidence of a serious threat that can be verified by the public." But defense contractors -- both tech companies and weapons makers - are profiting handsomely from fears of cyber attack that could steal sensitive information or crash computer networks and power grids.

Oil imports spike as Obama oil ban decreases domestic production
Excerpt: Here are the facts: According to projections made by the Energy Information Administration in April 2010, the Gulf of Mexico should have produced 1.84 million barrels of oil a day in the fourth quarter of 2010. Instead, according to the most recent EIA estimate, due to the Obama permitorium, the Gulf only produced 1.59 million barrels. That is 250,000 barrels a day in lost production. Overall, since Obama instituted his drilling moratorium, oil production from the Gulf is down more than 10%. But while Gulf oil production is down from pre-moratorium estimate, total oil consumption is actually higher than EIA predicted last year. Total crude oil input to refineries is up from an estimated 13.85 million barrels a day to an actual 14.25 million barrels. But if domestic production is down and consumption is up, where is the extra oil coming from?

Seniors not buying Dem Mediscare on Ryan Budget
Excerpt: Gallup has their first round of polling out on Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity and the results are encouraging for conservatives:. While “the Republican plan put forth by Congressman Paul Ryan” falls one point short (43%) of “the Democratic plan put forth by President Barack Obama” (44%) the splits among age groups are noteworthy:
Ryan’s plan includes a complete restructuring of Medicare for people younger than 55. Pluralities of middle-aged Americans as well as those 65 and older prefer Ryan’s plan to Obama’s, while adults 18 to 29 show more support for Obama’s, 53% to 30%. These findings are in line with approval of Obama by age, more generally.

Herman Cain hits Romney on health care plan
If my choice in the GOP primary is Romney or Cain, I’m with Cain. ~Bob. Excerpt: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Wednesday said his rival Mitt Romney would have to “deal with” the health care law he passed in Massachusetts, which Cain grouped with ObamaCare as “government-centered” health care. “I do not support the Massachusetts health care law,” Cain said at a lunch sponsored by the American Spectator and held at the offices of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. While he didn't explicitly say the two laws were similar, he did mention them in tandem, emphasizing, “I want to get to get away from this government takeover to health care.”

'Atlas Shrugged' producer: 'Critics, you won.' He's going 'on strike.'
Excerpt: Twelve days after opening "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1," the producer of the Ayn Rand adaptation said Tuesday that he is reconsidering his plans to make Parts 2 and 3 because of scathing reviews and flagging box office returns for the film. (...) "Atlas Shrugged" was the top-grossing limited release in its opening weekend, generating $1.7 million on 299 screens and earning a respectable $5,640 per screen. But the box office dropped off 47% in the film's second week in release even as "Atlas Shrugged" expanded to 425 screens, and the movie seemed to hold little appeal for audiences beyond the core group of Rand fans to whom it was marketed.

Iran's president and supreme leader in rift over minister's reinstatement
Excerpt: Since the first signs of split emerged, several members of the Iranian parliament have called on Ahmadinejad to publicly support Khamenei's decision over Moslehi, a request he has so far declined. Some prominent figures in the powerful revolutionary guards have also asked the president to comply with the supreme leader. On Tuesday, Parliament News, a website run by Iranian MPs reported that "the plan to impeach Ahmadinejad has begun" in the parliament, with 12 MPs asking for him to be summoned before them. Conservatives believe that the increasing tension between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei stems from the growing influence of Mashaei, who is being groomed by Ahmadinejad as his possible successor. Mashaei, whose daughter married Ahmadinejad's son, has become the most controversial figure in Iran, provoking harsh criticism from conservatives by favouring a greater cultural openness and opposing greater clerical involvement in the regime.

Dollar Resumes Slide As US Jobless Claims Jump, GDP Shows Slowdown
Who will the Blamer-in-Chief blame this week? ~Bob. Excerpt: The dollar didn't need any more bad news, but got it Thursday. The U.S. currency was pushed down further after economic indicators pointed to a dismal employment picture and slowing economic growth. First-time claims for unemployment benefits jumped by 25,000 to 429,000, indicating employers might have recently slowed their hiring recently. Economists were expecting claims to fall to 395,000.

Superman Renounces His U.S. Citizenship in 900th Issue of Action Comics
Huh. I thought he was born in Hawaii. Boycott Action Comics. ~Bob. Excerpt: In Action Comics’ new record-breaking 900th issue, the iconic super hero renounces his U.S citizenship following a clash with the federal government. The Man of Steel, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938, has always been recognized as a devoted American warrior who constantly fought evil, but as of Thursday, he is no longer the country's own to claim. "I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship," he says in a cell in the issue. "I'm tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy."

Rand Paul has 'birther' demand for Trump: Prove you're a Republican
Excerpt: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday took a swipe at billionaire businessman Donald Trump, demanding to see his "Republican registration." While speaking at a breakfast with New Hampshire Republicans one day after "The Donald" visited the Granite State, Paul riffed off the potential GOP presidential candidate's "birther" questions. I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned,” said Paul, according to The New York Times. “I want to see the original long-form certificate of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.”

Sioux Falls, South Dakota Christian Woman Threatened, Home, Car Vandalized by Somalis
Excerpt: Most recently Lisa organized a very successful screening of Iranium to a standing room only crowd of 300, with Frank Gaffney, Founder and President of the Center for Security Policy, South Dakota Sen. Dan Lederman, Tom Trento, President of The United West and Captain Joel Arends. In fact, Lisa is on her way to Iraq, with Captain Arends, to film a documentary about the slaughter of Iraqi Catholics by shariah Muslims in Baghdad. On several occasions, Lisa has been confronted by Muslims who do not like her. Not long ago, Lisa’s tires were slashed, yes, in the quiet mid-west town of Sioux Falls.

NLRB Seeks to Overturn Voter-Approved Secret Ballot Laws in Arizona, South Dakota
Excerpt: The NRLB contends it is perfectly within the agency’s jurisdiction to bring a “preemptive” lawsuit against the states. The agency announced it would move forward with litigation against the states of South Dakota and Arizona to strike the laws from the states that voters approved last November to guarantee employees have the right to vote via secret ballot on whether to form unions at their workplace. The states of South Carolina and Utah passed similar amendments to their constitutions. “Many lawyers will tell you it [the secret ballot] is an implied right within their state constitutions,” Jackley told (...) The effort at the state level was in response to the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, a bill backed by congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama that never passed. This bill would have allowed secret-ballot elections in union organizing to be replaced with a system in which union organizers ask workers to sign a card, and once a majority signs, the union is recognized.

Climate Change As Religion: The Gospel According To Gore
Excerpt: …[T]hat idyllic view of an Eden in the “good old days” before industrialization and modern technology wrecked everything warrants some objective reflection. Realities going back a few hundred years and more reveal a different picture; one displaying widespread poverty, starvation, disease and hardship. Yes, throughout human history, people have had to adapt to climate changes – some long, some severe, and many unpredictable. They have blamed themselves for bad seasons, believing they had invoked the displeasure of the gods through a large variety of offenses. High priests of doom told them so, extracting oaths of fealty and offerings of penance for promised interventions on their behalf. In this regard, at least for some, it seems little has changed. That penance today comes at a very high cost…our present and future national economy.

The Media Don’t Get Economics
Excerpt: I watched almost gape-mouthed at what CNN represented as an analysis of high gasoline prices this week. The implications for the president’s popularity were laboriously explained. But at no point in this exposition did the fact that the U.S. federal government has run up deficits of $3.5 trillion in the last two years, in a country that had a money supply of a little over $1 trillion at the start of this fiscal orgy, rate a mention as an explanation of why commodity prices are rising. … In the 27 months of the Obama administration, there have been spectacular rises in the prices of gasoline ($1.83 per gallon to almost $4), oil ($41 per barrel to over $90), gold ($853 per ounce to $1,500), corn ($3.56 per bushel to $6.33), and sugar ($13.37 per pound to $35.39). The real median household income has declined by $300, to under $50,000; the number of food-stamp recipients has increased from 32 million to 43 million; the number of people officially in poverty has increased by 10 percent, to 44 million (more people than the whole populations of Poland or Spain); the ranks of the long-term unemployed have increased from 2.6 million to 6.4 million; and the U.S.’s position in the rankings of economic freedom of the world’s countries has declined from fifth to ninth. I have admitted that my canvass of television news and comment is sketchy, but I have seen almost no reference to any of these problems except the prices of oil, gold, and gas.

Marine Corps and Peace Corps
Excerpt: West quotes Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who, in 2008, told the colonels at the National Defense University: “Where possible, kinetic operations should be subordinate to measures to promote better governance, economic programs to spur development, and efforts to address the grievances among the discontented.” Given these instructions, West writes, American commanders have become “de facto district governors, spending most of their time on non-military tasks. . . . The U.S. military coined the aphorism ‘Dollars are bullets.’ Battalion and company commanders doled out millions of dollars.” … But Obama should make it clear that the mission is not to prevail only on the Afghan battlefield. The mission is to prevail in the global war now underway. That will require that President Obama acknowledge that such a war is underway, and that nothing matters more to the future of the United States than who wins it.

Regulating Extraordinary Disasters into Existence
Excerpt: The two examples are the BP Macondo well accident in the Gulf of Mexico and the first explosion at the Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) Fukushima nuclear complex. Save for an overly cautious response to government regulation, neither incident would have ripened into the disasters they became. Yet the instinctive response of the government has been greater and more intrusive regulation. The government regulators display all the necessary elements of Santayana's definition of a regulatory fanatic, someone who redoubles his efforts having forgotten his aim.  The President's Oil Spill Commission concluded that a failed negative pressure test started the chain of events that resulted in the Macondo well blowout. The key element that confused the operators was a false pressure reading due to clogging of the kill line by lost circulation material contained in the spacer fluid used in the well. BP pumped that material into the well to comply with a federal regulation. (This actually falls into the OMG category. Ron P.)

After Tepid Gains During Downturn, Firearm Sales Rise at Double-Digit Rates
Obama stimulates the economy. ~Bob. Excerpt: The gun business is on track to have its strongest growth in sales since 2008, according to the latest available data. Federally tracked gun sales rose more than 12.7% in the first quarter, demonstrating the strongest year-over-year growth rate for the gun industry in three years.

Obama Finally Says ‘Drill Baby Drill’ (No, Not You America)
Excerpt: It’s a start: President Obama is finally saying “drill baby drill.” If the story stopped right there I’d give him this week’s Sarah Palin Awakenings award. The problem is that Obama is calling on every oil producing nation with the exception of the United States to increase the supply in a desperate attempt to save his presiden… I mean… lower the price at the pump in Anywhere, USA. From Reuters: President Barack Obama said on Tuesday oil producing countries should increase their output to curb the rise in gasoline prices because “if we’re not growing, they’re not going to be making money either.”

What the World Sees in America
Excerpt: Our republic is not now in a historical adventure period—that is not what is needed. We are or should be in a self-strengthening one. Our focus should not be on outward involvement but inner repair. Bad people are gunning for us, it is true. We should find them, dispatch them, and harden the target. (That would be, still and first, New York, though Washington too.) We should not occupy their lands, run their governments, or try to bribe them into bonhomie. We think in Afghanistan we're buying their love, but I have been there. We're not even renting it. Our long wars have cost much in blood and treasure, and our military is overstretched. We're asking soldiers to be social workers, as Bing West notes in his book on Afghanistan, "The Wrong War." I saw it last month, when I met with a tough American general. How is the war going? he was asked. "Great," he said. "We just opened a new hospital!" This was perhaps different from what George Patton would have said. He was allowed to be a warrior in a warrior army. His answer would have been more like, "Great, we're putting more of them in the hospital!"

Last Cadet Class Leaves CHP Academy
Excerpt: A statewide hiring freeze has forced the California Highway Patrol to cancel cadet training at their West Sacramento facility. The last class took part Wednesday morning in the traditional run to the state capitol. Sixty-eight officers embarked on the five-mile run to the Peace Officers Memorial near the west steps of the state capitol. This will be the last class to graduate from the CHP Academy for at least six months. The academy canceled a class in February after Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order freezing all new hires.

Afghan Christians to be deported despite death fears
Excerpt: Two Afghan asylum seekers, who say they fear they will be killed for being Christian if they are returned home, are to be deported to Kabul on Wednesday. Ahmed Faizi, 29, has been on a hunger strike at the Harmondsworth immigration removal centre near Heathrow for six days. According to friends, Faizi – who has a cross tattooed on his right arm – is convinced that he will be killed if forced to return to Afghanistan. He told a friend: "If the Taliban don't execute me for being a Christian, my family will."

Huckabee Out?: South Carolina staffers reportedly told to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
Excerpt: It looks as if Mike Huckabee won’t be making a presidential run in 2012 after all. An article at the Process Story blog says they have been told Huckabee is “giving his former S.C. supporters the nod to seek work on other presidential campaigns. The word is that he’s told South Carolina staffers that they have his blessing for them to peddle their wares elsewhere.”

English Defence League Demo in Support of Family of Murdered Charlotte Downes
Excerpt: Our national campaign against the threat of radical Islam brings us to the seaside town made infamous by the gruesome murder of Charlene Downes. Charlene disappeared in 2003, and evidence emerged that her body had been put through a mincing machine in a Blackpool Kebab shop – one of a number of takeaways in the town identified by police as a sexual exploitation ‘honey pot’. Lancashire police botched the investigation into Charlene’s murder and paid the two defendents nearly £250,000 each in compensation. Today, the kebab shop is still open and it is thought that over 60 Blackpool school girls have been the victims of grooming or sexual abuse by Muslim takeaway owners and workers.

Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas 'agree to end rift'
Excerpt: Under the Egyptian-brokered deal, an interim government will be formed and a date fixed for elections. The groups have been divided for more than four years, with Hamas in power in Gaza and Fatah running the West Bank. Israel immediately said that the Palestinian Authority could not have peace with both Hamas and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "I hope the Palestinian Authority will make the right choice - peace with Israel." Hamas has carried out bombings and rocket attacks against Israel for years and does not recognise its right to exist. (I guess they finally decided to stop killing each other and concentrate on killing Israelis.  This is about as bad as news can get for Israel, short of Iran building a nuclear weapon—which surely won’t happen for at least a few weeks. Hold on to your hats, the storm is coming. Ron P.)