Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Political Digest for January 11, 2012

Charities I support

Obama’s Military

Worth Reading: Kodak and the Post Office By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: The news that Eastman Kodak is preparing to file for bankruptcy, after being the leading photographic company in the world for more than a hundred years, truly marks the end of an era. The skills required to use the cameras and chemicals required by the photography of the mid-19th century were far beyond those of most people -- until a man named George Eastman created a company called Kodak, which made cameras that ordinary people could use. … The difference is that, although the Postal Service is technically a private business, its income doesn't cover all its costs -- and taxpayers are on the hook for the difference. (The Marines made Tom Sowell a photographer, and it has stayed with him for life. Kind of like how I shout at people. My DIs taught me that skill. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: A 55-year-old Italian high school teacher is out of a job following a vicious threat against Jews in his country. According to reports, convicted Holocaust denier Renato Pallavidini warned that if Facebook deleted his posted photo of Mussolini shaking the hand of Hitler, he would go on an antisemitic rampage in Torino.

Michelle Obama: "Distressed" about Daley, Madigan, Hynes clout
Excerpt: When Michelle Obama worked in Mayor Daley's City Hall in the early 1990s, she was "distressed" by how a small group of "white Irish Catholic" families -- the Daleys, the Hynes and the Madigans -- "locked up" power in Illinois.

What Bill Daley taught the White House
Excerpt: Daley’s departure raises a bigger question, however. Brought in to rebuild the White House’s relationship with the business community and Congress, Daley leaves the job as Obama seems to have found his stride by explicitly running against Congress and, to a lesser extent, the business community. “What he learned was that business refused to make nice regardless of what he did,” said one former White House aide of Daley. “Wall Street was just never going to be there.” (Jon Corzine was Wall Street to the core and he was there for him. Anyone who think that “Wall Street was never going to be there” for Obama needs to read “Repo Men” by Kevin D. Williamson.

Obama re-election effort picks up speed amid noise of NH primary
Excerpt: President Obama’s re-election campaign appears to be picking up speed.
Just days after administration officials said Obama wouldn’t be doing much campaigning, the president appears to be doing just that and he's using the New Hampshire primary to rev up his campaign. (Won’t be doing much campaigning? It’s all he’s ever done, all he knows how to do. ~Bob.)

Does Retiree Health Insurance Encourage Early Retirement?
Excerpt: In the United States, there is currently a strong link between health insurance and employment. Most individuals can only purchase health insurance at favorable group rates through their employer and there are significant tax advantages to employer-based coverage. This reliance on employer-provided plans makes it more difficult for workers to retire before they become eligible for health benefits through Medicare (age 65). However, some employers extend health insurance coverage to their pre-65 retirees, and this has the effect of enabling earlier retirement, say researchers Steven Nyce, Sylvester Schieber, John B. Shoven, Sita Slavov and David A. Wise.

Children of the Corn: The Renewable Fuels Disaster
Excerpt: Deficit hawks, environmentalists, and food processors are celebrating the expiration of the ethanol tax credit. This corporate handout gave $0.45 to ethanol producers for every gallon they produced and cost taxpayers $6 billion in 2011. So why did the powerful corn ethanol lobby let it expire without an apparent fight? The answer lies in legislation known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which creates government-guaranteed demand that keeps corn prices high and generates massive farm profits. Removing the tax credit but keeping the RFS is like scraping a little frosting from the ethanol-boondoggle cake. The RFS mandates that at least 37 percent of the 2011-12 corn crop be converted to ethanol and blended with the gasoline that powers our cars. The ethanol mandate is causing corn demand to outstrip supply by more and more each year, creating a vulnerable market in which even the slightest production disturbance will have devastating consequences for the world’s poor. It is time for the federal government to stop requiring cars to burn food. (Another Green disaster for poor and working people. ~Bob.)

A Fine for Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn’t Exist
Excerpt: When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law. But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist. (Huh. I understand that there is plenty of this fuel in Never-Never Land. They just have to sprinkle pixie dust on the unicorns that deliver it. More green stupidity. ~Bob.)

Workplaces ban not only smoking, but smokers themselves
Excerpt: More job-seekers are facing an added requirement: no smoking — at work or anytime. As bans on smoking sweep the USA, an increasing number of employers — primarily hospitals — are also imposing bans on smokers. They won't hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine use, whether cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even patches. … The bottom line will benefit because health care costs for tobacco users are $3,000 to $4,000 more each year than for non-smokers, says Bon Secours' Cindy Stutts. "There's also an impact on productivity," she says, because smokers take more breaks.

The Force Is Not With You: Cash-strapped Minnesota town hires private guards for policing duties
Excerpt: A small Minnesota town is set to embark on a radical civic experiment: replacing cops with a private security force. Yesterday, wearing uniforms and carrying sidearms, security guards began doing 24-hour patrols every day of the week on the shady streets of Foley, a community of 2,600 surrounded by farmland, northeast of St. Cloud. The cost-saving move has triggered worry among some that town leaders may have gone too far, taking some life-or-death responsibilities out of the hands of those with the legal authority to enforce the law. (Government at all levels is beyond broke. Just one more symptom of the gathering fiscal collapse! Bob.)

The Stephanopoulos Standard: Republicans can turn media bias to their advantage.
Excerpt: A funny thing happened on the way to the New Hampshire primary: ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos embarrassed himself on national television with questions plainly intended to embarrass the Republican candidates. Therein lies a lesson. On Saturday night, Mr. Stephanopoulos stepped outside the role of honest interlocutor when he pursued Mitt Romney with the issue on nobody's lips or legislative agenda: whether states have the right to ban contraception. Likewise, fellow moderator Diane Sawyer, who asked Republicans what they would say, "sitting in their living rooms," to a gay couple.

California's High-Speed Rail Fibs: Florida and Ohio have walked away from dubious train projects. Are Golden Staters more gullible?
Excerpt: A few days ago, the California High Speed Rail Peer Review Group, an expert body mandated by state law, expressed serious doubts about the proposed Los Angeles-San Francisco rail system. It concluded that it "cannot at this time recommend that the legislature approve the appropriation of bond proceeds" because the project "represents an immense financial risk" to the state. But hell hath no fury like a state agency scorned. The California High-Speed Rail Authority issued a quarrelsome response claiming that the rail system is, well, a bargain!

Obama's Arrogant Authoritarianism
Excerpt: Last week, President Barack Obama took the latest step on his road toward an arrogant, new authoritarianism with four illegal appointments that entirely trampled on the Constitution's requirements. More troubling still, the President chose to shred the Constitution all in the name of serving his Big Labor agenda while killing jobs in the process. The President's actions once again gave voice to his animating view of governing: doing so is much easier when one isn't constrained by the Constitution and its checks and balances.

Think Again: Intelligence: I served in the CIA for 28 years and I can tell you, America's screw-ups come from bad leaders, not lousy spies. By Paul R. Pillar
Excerpt: On major foreign-policy decisions, however, whether going to war or broadly rethinking U. S. strategy in the Arab world (as President Barack Obama is likely doing now), intelligence is NOT [emphasis mine] the decisive factor. The influences that really matter are the ones that leaders bring with them into office; their own strategic sense, the lessons they have drawn from history or personal experience, the imperatives of domestic politics, and their own neuroses. A memo or briefing emanating from some unfamiliar corner of the bureaucracy hardly stands a chance.

Terror in Tampa- CAIR Denial
Excerpt: "We all have to die, so why not die the Islamic way?" Sami Osmakac, a 25-year-old immigrant who plotted a suicide terror attack in Tampa, told a confidential informant. When the informer tried once more to dissuade him from his plans, by asking whether he wanted to get married and have children, Osmakac replied that he would build his family in Paradise. Osmakac was arrested Saturday night, after receiving nonfunctioning guns and explosives from the FBI and making a martyrdom video. Although he initially planned to blow up a car bomb outside of Tampa's nightlife district of Ybor City, he altered his plan to avoid being cut short by police patrols around the busy club scene. He currently faces one charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, with the potential of life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. (More potential “Workplace Violence.” Another Muslim who didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. ~Bob.)

Democrats and Executive Overreach: It's a mistake to excuse Obama's disregard for the Constitution. Precedents set now will be exploited by the next administration. By Michael Mcconnell
Excerpt: One reason so many Americans entrusted Barack Obama with the presidency was his pledge to correct the prior administration's tendency to push unilateral executive power beyond constitutional and customary limits. Yet last week's recess appointments of Richard Cordray as the first chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three new members to the President's National Labor Relations Board—taken together with other aggressive and probably unconstitutional executive actions—suggest that this president lacks a proper respect for constitutional checks and balances.

Excerpt: Ben Bernanke’s zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP) and command-economy efforts to maintain mispricing of risk, debt and assets are destroying capital and capitalism. No wonder his policies have failed so miserably. To understand why Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s efforts to restart economic “growth” have failed so completely and miserably, we need to compare the present with the end of the Great Depression. There is a wealth of irony in the Chairman’s supposed expertise on the Great Depression, as his policies have backfired on “fixing” the Great Recession. Rather than “fix” the economic malaise by re-inflating the credit-boom bubble, he has only increased the systemic vulnerability to a much greater crash.

The Cruelest Cuts By Arnold Ahlert
Excerpt: On January 3rd, President Obama released his vision for military expenditures going forward. It is a plan that calls for reducing troop strength by tens of thousands because, Mr. Obama contends, "we've succeeded in defending our nation, taking the fight to our enemies, reducing the number of Americans in harm's way, and we've restored America's global leadership." An integral part of the new strategy? Abandoning the capability to fight two major ground wars simultaneously. 

Iran on the Brink by Melanie Phillips
Excerpt: Dare one hope that finally the Iranian regime is starting to crack? Certainly a number of observers appear to think so. 'Reza Kahlili', a pseudonymous former CIA operative in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the force that underpins the regime's power base, has written that a split has opened up within the Revolutionary Guards which offers the west a rare opening to act against the regime.

Video: GUNS & GOD

UN nuclear agency confirms Iranian uranium enrichment at bunker, increasing nuke fears
Excerpt: [Iran’s] dismissal of findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency of secret experimental work on a nuclear weapons program also worries the international community. British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the move “a provocative act which further undermines Iran’s claims that its program is entirely civilian in nature.” Tehran’s “claim to be enriching for the Tehran Research Reactor does not stand up to serious scrutiny,” he said in a statement. Hague said that Iran “already has sufficient enriched uranium to power the reactor for more than five years and has not even installed the equipment necessary to manufacture fuel elements” out of the enriched material. (Has anyone wondered where the former head of the IAEA is now? You know, the one who assured the world Iran had no desire, intention, or capability to pursue a nuclear weapon?  Mohamed ElBaradei, Egyptian legal scholar and diplomat (not scientist!), may turn out to be the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s choice for Prime Minister of Egypt. Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Or do you feel like you’ve just been screwed again? Ron P.)

DEA helped Colombian drug trafficker launder cash, new report reveals
Excerpt: Undercover agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, working with their Mexican counterparts, helped transfer millions of dollars in drug cash and even escorted a shipment of cocaine via Dallas to Spain. The covert activities were undertaken as part of an operation to infiltrate and prosecute a major Colombian-Mexican narco-trafficking organization moving cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and the United States.

U.S. Agents Helped Mexican and Colombian Drug Traffickers Launder Millions, Report Says
Excerpt: Mexico's government allowed a group of undercover U.S. anti-drug agents and their Colombian informant to launder millions in cash for a powerful Mexican drug trafficker and his Colombian cocaine supplier, according to documents made public Monday.

The Case for Military Action Against Iran by Bruce Thornton
Excerpt: Iran’s 30-year war against the United States may be reaching its decisive moment. Signs of the worsening crisis abound. Iran just announced it has begun enriching uranium at the Fordo underground nuclear site, a key step to producing more quickly fissile material for a nuclear warhead.

When is Something Racist? When the Left Says It Is by Mark Tapson
Excerpt: Obviously a pointed commentary on Michelle Obama’s high-end wardrobe and frequent lavish getaways such as a glitzy Spanish jaunt and her family’s recent $4 million, 17-day trip to Hawaii, right? If you think so, then you’re not getting the pic’s overt racism, according to Christopher Knight, and you’re probably racist yourself for laughing at it, according to the left.

US orders expulsion of Venezuelan consul
Excerpt: The United States has ordered the expulsion of Venezuela's consul general in Miami amid reports linking the diplomat to an alleged Iranian plot to target sensitive US facilities with cyber attacks, the US State Department said Sunday.

Former U.S. Army soldier and Misunderstander of Islam charged with trying to join jihad terror group
Excerpt: Baxam converted to Islam while in the Army and ended up trying to join a jihad terror group. Here again, the mainstream media would ignore this. Yet if even a half, or a third, or a tenth as many converts to Christianity ended up trying to join violent terror groups in accordance with what they believed to be the dictates of their faith, the New York Times and NBC News and Christiane Amanpour would be running banner-headline, prime time, breathless investigations of what it was about Christianity that caused converts to go mad. But for this? Nothing.

Pakistan: Christian accused of blasphemy, threatened with death for being named "Jew"
Excerpt: For some reason, those who encountered Jew Jurian, even though they were residents of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan -- a nation dedicated to living out the peaceful and tolerant teachings of Islam -- were unable to tolerate him and his name. How did so many Misunderstanders of Islam end up there?

The Dream Ticket Could Be a Conservative Nightmare by Bernard Goldberg
Excerpt: Bill Keller, who used to run the New York Times and now is one of the paper’s many liberal columnists, has come up with an idea: He wants President Obama to gently push Joe Biden aside and put Hillary Clinton on the ticket this November to run as his vice presidential candidate. If you’re a Democrat, this is a pretty good idea. If you’re a Republican, you have every right to be worried. An Obama-Clinton ticket would be formidable, more formidable that a ticket with ole’ reliable Joe Biden on it. (He threw his grandmother under the bus, Biden would be nothing. But would Obama sleep soundly at night? ~Bob.)

Alice and regulations
Excerpt: Includes a picture. By J. Christian Adams Not surprisingly, the White House deliberately concealed the existence of the grotesque party from the public and the press corp. That pesky 16% real unemployment rate required stealth. The Alice in Wonderland party won’t surprise anyone who has read my book Injustice, for Chapter Seven is actually titled “Through the Looking Glass.” The Justice Department held a similar bizarre party at the Mellon Auditorium courtesy of the taxpayers on April 27, 2010. They called it a “retreat,” but it had skits, singing, dancing, and of course free lunch for nearly 800 DOJ employees paid for by you.

DOJ inspector general refuses to investigate Occupy public safety threats
Excerpt: The Department of Justice’s inspector general has refused to investigate Attorney General Eric Holder’s response to public safety threats stemming from the ongoing “Occupy” movement nationwide, especially in New York City and Washington, D.C. The nonprofit investigative firm Cause of Action asked DOJ Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar to look into Holder’s response to concerns about the potential for violence in connection with Occupy protests. (Like expecting them to prosecute black voter intimidation. ~Bob.)

Gary Sinise plans benefit to build home for wounded Marine
Excerpt: Actor Gary Sinise, who played a soldier in the movie "Forrest Gump" who loses his legs in Vietnam, plans a benefit concert to raise money to build a home in Temecula for a Marine from Camp Pendleton who lost his legs and right arm in Afghanistan. Sinise, now starring in TV’s “CSI New York,” is set to address the Temecula City Council on Tuesday. The concert tentatively would be March 1 at Town Square Plaza and feature Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band, named for his character in “Forrest Gump.” (Had the pleasure of attending a concert by the Lt. Dan Band when he came to NSA Millington a few years ago. He is a class act, and his band is actually pretty damn good. MasterGuns)

The worst college major for getting a job is ...
If you have a student in the family, this might help. ~Bob.

State targets property-tax payers
Excerpt: As many as 5 million California property-tax payers who have been taking the entire amount they pay off their state income taxes could see a major cut in their deductions when they file next year. Beginning with the 2012 tax bill (the one due in April 2013), the state Franchise Tax Board will require property owners to break down their property taxes into deductible and non-deductible portions.

More signs the country is failing
“Today in an undergraduate class of 30 (fourth-year) students, I determined that no one--yes, no one--knew the first few lines to the Gettysburg Address. As a dedicated "true Southerner," I was afraid to ask how many knew the first few lines to "Dixie" or the identity of Robert E. Lee. Worse yet, what if they did not know the Pledge of Allegiance or the Star Spangled Banner.” --RW (From a psychologist/attorney/professor friend. ~Bob)

Marine from Camp Pendleton to be awarded Navy Cross posthumously
Excerpt: The secretary of the Navy next week will present the Navy Cross to the family of a Marine from Camp Pendleton killed while saving the life of other Marines in Afghanistan, officials announced Tuesday. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is set to present the medal Jan. 17 to the family of Lance Cpl. Donald Hogan in a ceremony at Camp Pendleton. The Navy Cross is second only to the Medal of Honor for combat bravery by Marines or sailors. Hogan, 20, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, was killed Aug. 26, 2009, by a buried explosive device after pushing a Marine to safety and yelling warnings to other Marines. (How many Americans, through their lives and service to others deserve to be protected by such men? ~Bob.)

'We'll set our sights on Washington': Chavez and Iran's Ahmadinejad JOKE about attacking U.S. with 'a big atomic bomb'
Ha, ha. Wish my M1 and I were in range of the meeting. ~Bob. Excerpt: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez mocked the U.S. and joked about directing 'a big atomic bomb' at Washington as they met in Caracas today. The president of Iran was visiting his Venezuelan counterpart in an attempt to rally support for his government in the face of tightening sanctions from the West.

What happens to the “Twinkies Defense”? ~Bob.

"Andalusia Spring" Reclaiming "Occupied" Spain for Islam
Excerpt: Controversies over Islam dominated the Christmas and New Year holidays in Spain this year. These conflicts reflect the growing influence of Islam in Spain after mass immigration from Muslim countries. They are a harbinger of things to come, especially as the Muslim population in Spain is predicted to double within the next fifteen years. (Paging Charles Martel. ~Bob.)

As Many As 600,000 Illegal Aliens May Be Registered To Vote In Texas
Excerpt: One concern is that undocumented immigrants have registered to vote in Texas. Since no identification is required to register to vote , undocumented immigrants could register. In prior years, no id was required at the polls so it is possible that many non-citizens could have registered to vote and illegally cast ballots. Texas does not issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants so many without identification could be turned away at the polls. (Obama great illegal hope. ~Bob.)

'Leaner' is an adjective more appropriately applied to cutting fat, not muscle By Jack Kelly
Excerpt: A weaker America is a stronger America, President Barack Obama said last week in unveiling his new defense strategy. Mr. Obama didn't use those words. But that's the effect of his plans to cut more than 100,000 troops from the Army and Marine Corps; reduce the Navy from 300 to 238 ships; cut Air Force strategic bombers by a third, and Air Force fighters by half. Our military will be "leaner," the president said. "Leaner" is an adjective more appropriately applied to cutting fat, not muscle.

U.S. ship rescues stranded Iranians — again
Excerpt: American sailors have come to the rescue of distressed Iranian fishermen for the second time in less than a week, the Pentagon said Tuesday. The United States Coast Guard cutter Monomoy "picked up six Iranian mariners after their vessel broke down" in the Persian Gulf Tuesday, the BBC reported. (Who will save their bacon—er, sorry, camel loin—after Obama guts the military? ~Bob.)

Finally: ATF Officials Involved in Fast and Furious Reprimanded
Excerpt: ATF Deputy Director Tom Brandon has suspended ATF Assistant Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations Bill McMahon, ATF Acting Deputy Director Billy Hoover and ATF Assistant Director in Charge of Field Operations Mark Chait until further notice from their cushy ATF management positions as the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, of which McMahon, Hoover and Chait were heavily involved in, is on going. The rumor is that Brandon has a rough draft copy of the Justice Department Inspector General Report on hand, sparking the move. This is great news, however it should have happened a year ago.

Guess everybody’s a RINO now. ~Bob. Excerpt: According to a Gallup survey released today, Mitt Romney is the now the only candidate who a majority of conservative and moderate/liberal Republicans nationwide see as an acceptable GOP nominee for president. Conservative Republicans are more likely to say Romney would be an acceptable nominee than either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. Fewer than half of conservative Republicans see Rick Perry, Ron Paul, or Jon Huntsman as acceptable nominees. And among moderate/liberal voters, none of the non-Romney candidates receives more than 40 percent when asked if they are an acceptable nominee.

City: Rat population has ‘exploded’ around Occupy D.C. camps
I hate rats, but I thought they had better taste than this. ~Bob. Excerpt: The rat population around the two Occupy D.C. camps at
McPherson Square
and Freedom Plaza has “exploded” since protesters began their vigil in October, according to Mohammad N. Akhter, the director of the District’s Department of Health. Akhter said in an interview Monday that city health inspectors have seen rats running openly through both camps and spotted numerous new burrows and nests underneath hay-stuffed pallets occupiers are using for beds.

Obama picks immigration reform advocate to lead domestic policy
President Obama has picked a strong advocate of immigration reform to head his Domestic Policy Council. The White House announced Tuesday that Cecilia Muñoz, a former senior vice president of the National Council of La Raza, would replace Melody Barnes at the top of the council. White House press secretary Jay Carney announced the appointment during his press briefing.

Viva la revolucion! Mercedes channels Che Guevara for car tech
Excerpt: They said it, not me. "Some colleagues still think that car-sharing borders on communism," Mercedes-Benz Chairman of the Board of Management Dieter Zetsche said onstage at CES today, speaking about Mercedes' new CarTogether initiative. "But if that's the case, viva la revolucion!"

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