Friday, January 13, 2012

Political Digest for January 13, 2012

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on. In some cases I post things sent to me by readers I might not have posted on my own, to get ideas circulating.

Response to The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
As I read it, I found it be a piece that says what I have believed and been saying since LBJ's "War on Poverty" hit me between the eyes when his introductory speech on TV boiled down to telling me that "we could have everything for everybody at a cost to no one." It only got worse and accelerated after that heading for an inevitable collapse if not headed off. Thanks, Lynn.


Worth Reading: WWBDD? What will Bill Daley do? Readers offer their ideas.
Excerpt: Michelle Obama is the daughter of a Chicago precinct captain and she used to work at City Hall for the Daleys. After her husband became U.S. senator, she received a big paycheck bump the
Chicago Way
at the University of Chicago, going from $121,910 a year in 2004 to $316,962 in 2005. And I didn't hear her complaining about clout. (A job that, once she moved to Washington, the University decided wasn’t needed at all. Got some nice earmark money from Senator Obama, the Saint of Chicago, after they gave her the raise, though, so a good ROI for them. I understand her job was to shift poor, non-paying patients to other facilities, thus saving the University money. Can only do that if you have a media-untouchable in the position. ~Bob.)

Landmark Supreme Court ruling a 'resounding win' for religious groups By Warren Richey
Excerpt: In an important decision affirming the separation of church and state and the freedom of religious groups to manage their own affairs, the US Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that religious organizations are shielded from discrimination lawsuits filed by members who are engaged in ministerial functions. In a unanimous decision, the high court said the First Amendment bars government interference in the authority of a religious group to determine for itself who will minister to the faithful.

Business groups, Republicans launch onslaught on president over Keystone
Excerpt: The nation’s most powerful business groups are dialing up the political pressure on the White House to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. December’s payroll-tax-cut deal gives the administration 60 days to approve or reject TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline to bring oil from Alberta’s tar sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue plans to highlight the pipeline in his closely watched annual speech Thursday on the state of American business. (Needed bumper sticker: Obama the Job Killer.)

Hollywood or Silicon Valley? — President Obama must choose
Excerpt: A controversial online piracy bill could force President Obama to choose between two of his most important allies: Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
Obama hasn’t taken a position yet on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that has divided senior lawmakers in both parties, but that will have to change if it clears Congress.
If Obama signs the bill, he will dash the hopes of Silicon Valley executives who donated heavily to his 2008 campaign and are vehemently opposed to the anti-piracy measure. 

Karzai condemns video of urination on corpses
Excerpt: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday condemned a video depicting what appears to be four U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. A presidential statement described the act as "completely inhumane" and called on the U.S. military to punish the Marines. (Always an error to give the enemy anything that can be used to hurt you, from ammo to propaganda fodder. But it’s asinine to have people who hang children, stone rape victims and cut off people’s heads calling this “barbaric.” The left wanted Bush impeached over Abu Grahib. Is Obama not equally responsible for this? ~Bob.)

DeMint to Gingrich: Tone Down Attacks on Romney
Excerpt: With all eyes on South Carolina, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of the Palmetto State warned former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and all of the other presidential candidates to tone down their campaign rhetoric. “I would encourage all of the candidates, ‘let’s just be as positive as we can.’ I know they’re frustrated if people run negative ads,” DeMint said today on The Laura Ingraham Show.

Marine Corps manual offers a blunt, revealing portrait of Afghan war
Excerpt: For centuries, this has been the paradox of warfare in Afghanistan: “The more enemies you kill, the faster you lose. Because of badal (revenge), the Pashtun have a saying: ‘Kill one enemy, make ten.’” That’s a quote from the Marine Corps’ May 2009 update of a guidebook, “Afghanistan, Operational Culture for Deploying Personnel.” The book is for those serving or preparing to serve in that country.

Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain
Too bad for the kids that the unions protect the worst teachers. ~Bob. Excerpt: Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years.

A Primer on What Unions Do to the Economy
Excerpt: Unions create a substantial distortion within a market-driven economy. To raise their members' pay unions must control the supply of jobs in a company or an industry. Unions must prevent employers from hiring anyone without their permission. If they can do this, they can expect the laws of supply and demand to work in their favor. Holding down employment drives up union members' wages. In other words, successful unions are job cartels, says James Sherk, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. Unions restrict competition for labor by limiting employers' hiring options. Because unions often incorporate political efforts by forming interest groups and lobbying, they often employ government regulations and red tape to restrict market access to union-friendly businesses. The union wage premium amounts to between 8 and 12 percent -- this pay differential over market rates reduces the total number of workers a business can hire (average businesses hire 5 to 10 percent fewer after unionization) and passes on higher costs to consumers. Unions act as an anchor on corporate investment: because they tend to demand higher wages when businesses do well, businesses are less likely to allocate resources to investments that would lead to that end. This results in a 15-percent loss in physical capital, and research and development.

Romney and the Corporate Raider Critique: The front-runner needs an idea bigger than himself. How about tax reform? By Fred Barnes
Excerpt: Mitt Romney is rolling to the Republican presidential nomination. He's the first Republican other than a sitting president to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Yet he just began confronting the greatest threat to his quest for the presidency—an explosive issue that could diminish the Republican Party's prospects for defeating President Obama. The issue is Mr. Romney's record as an investor and corporate-turnaround artist at Bain Capital from 1984 to 1999. That experience is the heart of his campaign for the White House, the source of his claim to be uniquely qualified to invigorate the economy and create jobs.

GM’s flop in green-Hybrid is one part lemon, one part taxpayer albatross
Excerpt: At the Detroit Auto Show this week, CEO Dan Akerson admitted that General Motors may have to cut back production of the Chevrolet Volt because the 4,600-plus Volts on the market now are about three times the monthly sales. Other figures put the GM hybrid car’s inventory at an outrageous 120-plus days. By most accounts, “Government Motors” has stuck with the Volt mainly to please the Obama administration, which still owns a third of its stock in the wake of the 2009 government “rescue” of the company. But just how badly is the effort faring? Well, consider the 1,529 sold in December.

Guantanamo Ten Years Later
Excerpt: His plan was to rip apart nightclubs with explosives, unleash a wave of destruction on bridges, and open fire on police officers--all in sunny Florida. This was the murderous intent of Sami Osmakac, 25, an American citizen from the former Yugoslavia who was determined to spill blood, foment destruction, and bring terror to the United States all in the name of Allah. Fortunately, undercover FBI agents thwarted his efforts, making this the 44th foiled terrorist plot against America. (Funny you need to lock up so many members of a “Religion of Peace” to stop them from murdering people in the name of their god. ~Bob.)

Myanmar Signs Truce With Ethnic Rebel Group
Excerpt: The government of Myanmar signed a cease-fire agreement on Thursday with ethnic Karen rebels who have been fighting for greater autonomy since the former Burma gained independence from Britain more than six decades ago, according to reports from Myanmar. (If you haven’t followed this war, the Karens are the good guys, IMHO. ~Bob.)

Israeli hacker retaliates to credit card hacking
Excerpt: An Israeli hacker has published details of hundreds of Saudi credit cards online and is threatening to post more in revenge for acts by Arab hackers. Last week a hacker, claiming to be from Saudi Arabia, published information about tens of thousands of Israeli credit cards online.

Boko Haram: Nigerian Islamist leader defends attacks
Excerpt: The leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamist militants has defended recent attacks on Christians, saying they are revenge for killings of Muslims. In his first video message, posted on YouTube, Abubakar Shekau referred to attacks on Muslims in recent years in several parts of northern Nigeria. Boko Haram militants attacked several churches on Christmas Day, killing dozens of worshippers.

Clever Piece: Haven't We Lived Through This Primary Before? By David Weigel
Excerpt: I'm thinking of a Republican primary. It starts with a candidate (John McCain/Mitt Romney) who ran once before, came in second place, and won over the party's elite class without winning over its base. Other candidates, understandably unwilling to accept this, line up: An under-funded social conservative (Mike Huckabee/Rick Santorum), an elder statesman who's walked to the altar three times (Rudy Giuliani/Newt Gingrich), a libertarian who wants to bring back the gold standard (Ron Paul/Ron Paul). The conservative base is displeased. In the year before the primary, it pines for a perfect candidate. At the end of summer, on (September 5/August 13), it gets him: (Fred Thompson/Rick Perry). The dream candidate immediately rises to the top of national polls, but collapses after lazy, distaff debate performances. When the primaries arrive, he's in single digits and reduced to attacking the front-runners. But in Iowa, he does just well enough to justify staying in the race.

In secret study, CIA and 15 other U.S. intelligence agencies warn Obama against leaving Afghanistan too soon
Excerpt: Classified National Intelligence Estimate completed last month and delivered to the White House, at odds with recent optimistic statements by Pentagon officials and have deepened divisions between U.S. intelligence agencies and American military commanders about progress in the decade-old war.

Liberal New York Times Has-Been Pushes Hillary Clinton Panic Button
Excerpt: I won’t bore you – at least I will attempt not to do so, with the Keller’s ramblings regarding why Hillary Clinton should become Barack Obama’s Vice President in 2012, but will share this startling excerpt that reveals the degree of panic now surrounding President Obama’s re-election prospects: The proposal to draft her in place of President Obama this year is preposterous. It exaggerates his vulnerability and discounts Hillary’s loyalty. But the idea that she should replace Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate in 2012 is something else.

CAIR-FL Director Defends Terror Suspect…Again
Hassan Shibly, the Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Tampa chapter, has emerged as the leading spokesperson in the latest Tampa terrorism case. Shibly, however, seems an odd choice for this role given his own unscrupulous background. Shibly has a history of defending terror suspects while accusing the government of wrongdoing.

Excerpt: Eric Holder’s Department of Justice has quietly advanced legal arguments in direct conflict with Catholic teaching and the teaching of other Christian denominations. If the Department of Justice prevails, the Catholic Church and other churches will have a difficult time preserving doctrinal traditions central to church teaching, particularly in church schools. The quiet and radical legal attack comes with perilous political risk, because active Catholics may determine Obama’s fate in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Like so much from this Justice Department, Holder’s radical legal positions are at odds with long American traditions. This latest species of Holder’s radicalism is a frontal attack on faith communities.

Florida GOP Primary: Romney 41%, Gingrich 19%, Santorum 15%
Excerpt: Mitt Romney is now running away with the race in the latest Rasmussen Reports’ survey of the end-of-the-month Florida Republican Primary. Coming off his decisive win in Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary, Romney earns 41% support with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich a distant second at 19%. A new telephone survey of Likely Florida Republican Primary Voters finds former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum running third with 15% of the vote.

Defense Spending Is a Shovel Ready Investment by Victor Davis Hanson
Excerpt: President Obama just ordered massive cutbacks in defense spending, eventually to total some $500 billion. There is plenty of fat in a Pentagon budget that grew after 9/11, but such slashing goes way too far. … In contrast, a robust military keeps the peace by deterring aggressors through the appearance of overwhelming force. We often forget that the appearance of strength in peace is almost as important as the reality of strength in war. When wars end, we scale back (think 1919 or 1946) -- only to kick ourselves once tensions arise again out of nowhere, and we must scramble to catch up and rearm for an unimagined World War II or Cold War.

Tunisians' antisemitic rally for Hamas honcho: "Turn our skulls into a ladder for your glory"
Excerpt: Now, that is what Amazon would call a "Statistically Improbable Phrase." It occurs at 1:29 in the video, among many other chants about crushing and driving out the Jews (not "Zionists," but Jews), and so on.

PA Sermon in the West Bank: "Every Evil and Catastrophe" in the Whole World "Is Caused by the Jews"
Excerpt: Oh servants of Allah, every evil and catastrophe on the land of Palestine – moreover, in the whole world – is caused by the Jews. They generate civil strife with their clandestine handiwork, their despicable texts, their bitter hearts, and their abominable intentions.

Federal agents arrest 50 in US, Puerto Rico in historic document fraud case
Excerpt: Fifty people have been accused of conspiring to sell the identities of hundreds of Puerto Ricans to illegal immigrants on the U.S. mainland in the largest single fraud case ever for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, authorities said Wednesday. Hundreds of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses were sold for up to $2,500 a set as part of a black market ring based in Puerto Rico that operated from since at least April 2009, according to ICE Director John Morton.

Bankrupt Solyndra seeking to pay bonuses --Court’s OK sought for ‘incentive plan’
Your tax dollars at work. ~Bob. Excerpt: Now seems an unlikely time for handing out bonuses at bankrupt Solyndra LLC, but that's the plan of company attorneys intending to dole out up to a half-million dollars to persuade key employees to stay put. Nearly two dozen Solyndra employees could receive bonuses ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 each under a proposal filed by Solyndra's attorneys in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

“All-American Muslim” Stars Caught by DHS Smuggling Pot Into US
Excerpt: File this under: What You’ll Never See on “All-American Muslim.” Two of the stars of TLC’s “All-American Muslim” were caught trying to smuggle nine grams of marijuana into the United States from Canada over New Year’s weekend, has learned. Ron Smith, press officer for Customs and Border Protection in Michigan, confirmed queries by regarding the incident.

Feds fail to intercept nuclear terrorists
Excerpt: The GAO "Red Teams" were successful in sneaking radioactive material across both U.S. borders, yet the White House and members of Congress continue to ignore the threat. In the latest example of incompetence by the federal government agency created to keeping America safe, the Department of Homeland Security has wasted $4 billion on a failed program to install crucial radiation detectors at U.S. border crossings, according to a government report released after the New Year holiday.

Obama and Panetta Uses Military Brass as Props
Excerpt: “As President Obama stood on the podium in the Pentagon briefing room Thursday to outline the nation’s defense priorities, the military stood with him,” reported The Washington Post, as if the military brass had any other alternative than to serve as props for the President. Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, who opposed the Reagan defense buildup when he was a left-wing congressman from California, was there as well. “For a president denounced by Republican rivals as a weak and irresponsible commander in chief, the show of military support (emphasis added) represented a political windfall for Obama as he begins campaigning in earnest for a second term,” the paper added. Obama’s unprecedented trip to the Pentagon’s briefing room to make the announcement was significant and newsworthy, but there is no evidence that the military officials were there voluntarily in support of Obama’s defense cuts.

CAIR's Manipulation Tactics in Tampa
Excerpt: As news of a terrorist plot by a radical Islamist in Tampa emerged Monday, the propaganda machine that is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) launched into action, repeating its mantra of accusations against the FBI and offering excuses for the plotter. It's a common pattern for an organization that positions itself between the public, government, and terrorist suspects, trying to control dialogue about Islamist terrorism suspects and cynically manipulating its own relationship with the government. Local media played into CAIR's plan, with the Tampa and St. Petersburg daily newspapers and television affiliates turning to the group for reaction, despite its own tainted record.

Mexico government sought to withhold drug war death statistics
How many from guns provided by the Obama administration to the drug cartels? Who cares, the dead are just Mexicans, right? Oh, and a couple of expendable US agents. ~Bob. Excerpt: Six months before a presidential election that his party is widely expected to lose, President Felipe Calderon is on the defensive about the government's blood-soaked drug war, with new revelations that it sought to conceal death toll statistics from the public. By unofficial count, at least 50,000 people are believed to have been killed since Calderon deployed the military in the first days of his presidency in December 2006.

Obama DOJ Undercuts President’s ‘Recess’ Appointment Stunt
Excerpt: According to Obama’s own Justice Department, the president is in the wrong. During a 2010 Supreme Court hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts and Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal had this exchange, in which the latter admitted that recess appointments may not be made within three days of adjournment: (Why aren’t Republicans litigating? Maybe they want that power for the next GOP president. ~Bob.)

The value of free enterprise has nothing to do with money or wealth
Excerpt: It means the right to define and earn our happiness through our ideas, hard work, and gumption, to earn our success by creating value honestly, in our own lives and in the lives of others. It doesn’t mean the pursuit of a big lottery win or an inheritance. Those bring money, but not happiness. And a mountain of evidence shows that after a fairly low threshold, more money doesn’t make us happier.

Romney’s push against amnesty makes immigration a defining issue
Excerpt: Mitt Romney collected the endorsements Wednesday of the architect of Arizona’s immigration-crackdown law, marking the final step on a journey that has taken him from lukewarm support of legalization to the Republican presidential field’s most ardent opponent of amnesty. And with Mr. Romney inching closer to wrapping up the GOP’s nomination, it sets up what would be the strongest contrast ever between the two major parties’ candidates on immigration.

Top 5 ‘let them eat cake’ moments of the Obama White House From a sojourn to Spain to island vacations
Excerpt: Michelle Obama may be missing the point. Responding to a new book by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor that characterizes the first lady as an occasionally unhappy and strident White House resident, Mrs. Obama said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on CBS that people have inaccurately tried to portray her as “some kind of angry black woman” and that “I love this job. It has been a privilege from day one.” Missing in Mrs. Obama’s self-defense, which primarily pushed back against reports of tension between her and President Obama’s top aides? A rebuttal to ongoing criticism that the Obamas have seemed out of economic touch with a nation struggling with high unemployment and the ongoing fallout of the Great Recession.

For Richer and for Poorer: Millionaires get poorer while the poor get richer. So what’s all this talk about the income gap?
Excerpt: But even these figures miss a more fundamental point. The top 1 percent in 1990 are not necessarily the same people as the top 1 percent in 2012. Data describing comparative income performance generally do not take into account the movement of individual households through time. There is no accurate assessment of the income gap without accounting for income mobility. The more the mobility, the less the significance of widening income disparities. … Even better news: The American Dream is still alive. Most children are living better lives than their parents did before them. A 2008 Pew Economic Mobility Project study by Brookings Institution scholars Julia Isaacs, Isabel Sawhill, and Ron Haskins showed that two-thirds of 40-year-old Americans are in households with larger incomes than their parents had at the same age.

Good Grief: Charlie Brown, Jihadist
Excerpt: The grim-visaged Ayatollah Khomeini once famously remarked that there is no humor in Islam. Many of his fundamentalist brethren have made that point abundantly clear by rioting, torching, and murdering – or at the very least threatening to do so – whenever Islam and/or its prophet Mohammed is the butt of a joke, as in the notorious Danish cartoons or the “Mohammed” episode of Comedy Central’s South Park in 2010. And the West has learned its lesson. We have acquired a finely-tuned sensitivity toward Muslim hair-trigger rage and censor ourselves accordingly now. After all, in the multiculturalist West, everyone’s religion, race, sexuality and culture are off-limits from ridicule, except for straight white Christians. (Like Tebow. ~Bob.)

Paychecks for Pedophiles
Excerpt: Indeed that is the only plausible explanation for the decision by the government of Greece a few days ago to start funding pedophiles. No, that is not a spoof and not a misprint. According to the Associated Press, the Greek government has just recognized pedophiles as a population of the “disabled,” entitled under law to governmental disability compensation and added to the country’s welfare roll. The children who are the victims of those pedophiles evidently are not. (I’ve seen conflicting reports as to whether this will qualify them for benefits or just sympathy. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: A few weeks ago, a Labour MP in Britain, Paul Flynn, expressed displeasure with his country’s ambassador to Israel. “I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories,” he said, “but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist.” What Britain needs in Israel, according to Flynn, is “someone with roots in the U.K.” who “can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty.”

Rick Perry ‘vulture’ attack on Romney costs him influential S.C. supporter
Excerpt: Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) criticism of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) as a “vulture capitalist” has cost him the backing of at least one prominent supporter. Barry Wynn, a top GOP donor, investment fund president and former state party chairman, plans to leave the Perry campaign and endorse Romney. (Nothing has pushed me toward Romney like the anti-capitalism Bain attacks. ~Bob.)

Murdering Muslim Mom Takes The Stand In Honor Killing Of Her Three Daughters
Excerpt: May the devil sh**t on their graves. Is that what a daughter should be? Would a daughter be such a whore?" -- Muslim dad who honor killed his three daughters and wife. "God's curse on them for generations. ... They betrayed Islam." "I would do it again 100 times," said Mohammad Shafia, who murdered his THREE daughters in honour killing for dating the wrong boys. (Huh. Guess he didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob.)

Federal Appeals Court Tells Voters Their Votes Don’t Matter Anymore
Excerpt: In 2010, 70% of Oklahoma voters voted in favor of State Question 755. SQ 755 was an amendment to the state constitution that barred courts from looking to the laws of other nations, especially Sharia laws when making their rulings in cases before them. The exact wording in the measure is, “Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law.”

Obama’s Electronic Medical Records Requirements Already Causing Job Loss
Excerpt: While the Old Media has been ecstatic over recent job numbers, claiming that some 200,000 jobs have been added to the economy, we should note that while Obama giveth Obama also taketh away. The media may be trying to claim the President has “created or saved” jobs (the latest weasel word is he’s created job opportunity) but his policies have also cost jobs. In particular his policies are costing jobs in the medical field. Last week, layoffs were announced at the University of Mississippi Medical Center due in part to the 80 million dollars that it will cost to implement a new computer system named EPIC Systems, Obama’s newly mandated electronic medical records system. Naturally, the system Obama is forcing on an entire nation of medical professionals and hospitals is the same system owned and operated by Judith Faulkner, one of his own big donors. Faulkner is also a big donor to the Democrat Party. Not surprisingly, besides affording her the lucrative, crony capitalist business deal, Obama also put Faulkner in a key role on the Health Information Technology Policy Committee, the committee responsible for implementing the President’s e-records policy. She has become known as Obama’s medical records czar.

Poll: Romney surging nationally
Excerpt: Mitt Romney is pulling away from the pack and has reached his highest level of support nationally, according to Gallup’s daily tracking poll of registered Republicans. Romney came in at 34 percent, followed by Rick Santorum at 15 percent, Newt Gingrich at 14 percent, Ron Paul at 13 percent, Rick Perry at 5 percent and Jon Huntsman at 2 percent. (I think I hear the Fat Lady warming up. ~Bob.)

National ICE Council Freezes the Obama Blitz
Excerpt: His eyes fixed on November 6, President Obama is desperately trying to stop hemorrhaging political support in a Hispanic community outraged by the success of his administration's data-based deportation policy and whose vote is potentially critical in several swing states he won by a razor's edge in 2008. It has sent some 400,000 illegal aliens home a year for a total of about a million during his time in office. A frenetic effort is now on to shift gears and show results well before the election.

Kagan in 2010: Pro-forma Senate sessions enough to block recess appointments
Excerpt: Another awkward fact acknowledged in Seitz’s opinion is that less than two years ago the Justice Department sent the Supreme Court a letter-style brief noting that “the Senate may act to foreclose [recess appointments] by declining to recess for more than two or three days at a time over a lengthy period.” Seitz insisted that the letter, from then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan, didn’t directly address the situation Obama faced earlier this month.

Video: John Bolton Endorses Mitt Romney
Does this make Bolton a RINO? ~Bob.

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