Saturday, January 14, 2012

Political Digest for January 14, 2012

Best older posts for new blog readers

Budget Cuts Explained

2 Army brigades to leave Europe in cost-cutting move
Excerpt: The Obama administration has decided to remove two of the four U.S. Army brigades remaining in Europe as part of a broader effort to cut $487 billion from the Pentagon’s budget over the next decade, said senior U.S. officials. The reductions in Army forces, which have not been formally announced, are likely to concern European officials, who worry that the smaller American presence reflects a waning of interest in the decades-long U.S.-NATO partnership in Europe. (Past time for Europe and Japan to decide if they are going to step up to defend themselves, or become client states of Russia/China. We can’t do it all any more. ~Bob.)

Gray suggests moving Occupy protesters to allow for
McPherson Square
Excerpt: Mayor Vincent C. Gray called on the National Park Service on Thursday to remove protesters from
McPherson Square
to “allow for elimination of the rat infestation, clean up, and restoration” of the downtown park. (Wants to get the occupiers and the rats out? Headline should be, “Democrat attacks base.” ~Bob.)

The Phony Class War: Is "conflict between rich and poor" really on the rise?
Excerpt: The Pew report contains a crucial disclaimer that disproves the AP's thesis: While the survey results show a significant shift in public perceptions of class conflict in American life, they do not necessarily signal an increase in grievances toward the wealthy. It is possible that individuals who see more conflict between the classes think that anger toward the rich is misdirected. Nor do these data suggest growing support for government measures to reduce income inequality.

So, You Think You're Free?
Excerpt: Thanks to big government spending and exploding debt, the United States -- and indeed the world -- is less economically free today than it was a year ago, according to the 18th annual Index of Economic Freedom, released yesterday by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Economic freedom -- the ability of individuals to control the fruits of their labor and pursue their dreams -- is central to prosperity around the world. Heritage and The Wall Street Journal measure economic freedom by studying its pillars: the rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets. Things like property rights, freedom from corruption, government spending, free trade, labor policies, and one's ability to invest in and create businesses all factor in to a country's economic freedom. (Though perfect freedom is anarchy and chaos, every new law, regulation or government agency makes us less free. Maintaining the balance is terribly difficult. So many people with sacrifice freedom—especially someone else’s freedom—for a little largess or to do what they think needs doing. ~Bob.)

Obama looks to merge six trade, commerce agencies into one
Excerpt: President Obama, looking to make the federal government leaner, will ask Congress for the authority to merge six trade and commerce agencies, a senior administration official confirmed to The Hill. (Give him the power—along with a requirement that the merged agencies have at least 25% fewer employees and repeal at least 25% of the regulations they have promulgated. ~Bob.)

Balanced, worth reading: Is Private Equity Bad For the Economy? By Jordan Weissmann
Excerpt: Mitt Romney's private equity record is suddenly the talk of the GOP presidential contest. What do we know about the industry he helped to create?...Was Romney just running a corporate chop-shop? Or was he pioneering a new way to unlock the value in American business? Whatever the answer, the blueprint he helped design has been massively influential. In 2007, investors had plunked more than $200 billion into funds like Bain. Academics have scrutinized the broader economic effects of private equity and what it does to companies, industries, workers, and investors. Here's a brief guide to help you answer the question: Is private equity good or bad for the economy?

5% of patients account for half of health care spending
Excerpt: Just 1% of Americans accounted for 22% of health care costs in 2009, according to a federal report released Wednesday. That's about $90,000 per person, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. U.S. residents spent $1.26 trillion that year on health care. Five percent accounted for 50% of health care costs, about $36,000 each, the report said.

Four Pinocchios for ‘King of Bain’
Excerpt: Newt Gingrich, meet Michael Moore! The 29-minute video “King of Bain” is such an over-the-top assault on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney that it is hard to know where to begin. It uses evocative footage from distraught middle-class Americans who allege that Romney’s deal-making is responsible for their woes. It mixes images of closed factories and shuttered shops with video clips of Romney making him look foolish, vain or greedy. And it has a sneering voice-over that seeks to push every anti-Wall Street button possible.

U.S. Sends Top Iranian Leader a Warning on Strait Threat
Excerpt: The Obama administration is relying on a secret channel of communication to warn Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that closing the Strait of Hormuz is a “red line” that would provoke an American response, according to United States government officials. The officials declined to describe the unusual contact between the two governments, and whether there had been an Iranian reply. (If they close the Straits, it will give us a chance to convert the Iranian Navy into fishing reefs and see how our new bunker buster bombs work on their nuke plants. Obama would have to give the “go” order, or the economy would tank and he’s lose in November. But a nice little war that was in out interests, unlike Libya, would help his numbers. ~Bob.)

Turkish Official Says a Russian Ship, Perhaps With Munitions, Has Reached Syria
Excerpt: A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said that a Russian ship thought to be carrying a cargo of munitions reached Syria on Thursday, in defiance of a European Union embargo, after stopping to refuel in Cyprus and receiving what the Turks said was inadequate scrutiny there.

Somalia's al-Shabab seizes Kenyan officials in Wajir
I wish Obama would send them his “Islam is a religion of peace” speech so they’d understand. ~Bob. Excerpt: Gunmen have killed six people and abducted three others in the latest attack in the north-eastern border region with Somalia, police say. The al-Qaeda-linked Somali Islamist group al-Shabab said that it had carried out the raid in Wajir district.

CBS Reporter :Tax dollars backing some "risky" energy projects
Excerpt: Solyndra, the solar panel maker, got a half-billion dollar government-backed loan - and then went bankrupt. That risky investment strategy didn't stop there. An investigative report by correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has found a pattern of the government pouring your tax dollars into clean energy. Take Beacon Power -- a green energy storage company. We were surprised to learn exactly what the Energy Department knew before committing $43 million of your tax dollars. (The Obama Administration continues to throw good Chinese money after bad. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: I’m coming up for air after some deadlines that couldn’t be delayed anymore, so I finally got around to watching the Mitt-Bain movie today. It is disgusting — something you’d expect from Michael Moore or Occupy Wall Street. It plays on every juvenile prejudice in the book (Romney heckled, hands counting wads of cash, Romney speaking French, Romney statements out of context repeated again and again) It is wildly inaccurate even in what little it tells us about Bain (two of the four companies were not under Romney’s direction when the job losses occurred). (I’ve started to lean towards Newt two or tree times in this election cycle, only to have him do something that completely turns me off. I guess it’s not all bad that by the time I get to vote in late March, it should be over. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: Dumb As A Rock: You Will Be Absolutely Amazed At The Things That U.S. High School Students Do Not Know
We’re doomed, doomed I say. ~Bob. Excerpt: Are we raising the stupidest generation in American history? The statistics that you are about to read below are incredibly shocking. They indicate that U.S. high school students are basically as dumb as a rock. As you read the rest of this article, you will be absolutely amazed at the things that U.S. high school students do not know. At this point, it is really hard to argue that the U.S. education system is a success. Our children are spoiled and lazy, our schools do not challenge them and students in Europe and in Asia routinely outperform our students very badly on standardized tests. In particular, schools in America do an incredibly poor job of teaching our students subjects such as history, economics and geography that are necessary for understanding the things that are taking place in our world today.

Everything Is at Stake, All Right By David Limbaugh
Excerpt: On this we can agree with President Obama: Everything he stands for is at stake in 2012. Obama told 500 fawning sycophants in Chicago that he is unrepentant about his policy agenda and intends to treat us to more of the same, much more, in a second term. Obama said, "Everything that we fought for is now at stake in this election." Lest there be no mistake, he repeated the message in the smaller settings of private homes.

South Carolina Primary: Romney 28%, Gingrich 21%, Santorum 16%, Paul 16%
Excerpt: Mitt Romney still holds first place in the South Carolina Primary field, while his opponents jockey for second with the voting eight days away. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters in South Carolina finds Romney ahead with 28% support, but now former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in second place with 21% of the vote. Support for former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum who was in second a week ago has fallen back to 16%, putting him dead even with Texas Congressman Ron Paul who also earns 16%.

Romney and the Right By Ronald Brownstein
Excerpt: Why is a party that leans so far to the right poised to nominate a candidate whom many conservatives deeply distrust? Conservatives have never enjoyed a more commanding position in the Republican Party. In Congress, they dominate the House and Senate caucuses. At the grassroots, they provided the shock troops for the tea party uprising that powered the GOP’s 2010 landslide.

The west's useful idiots by Melanie Phillips
Excerpt: In its editorial this morning, the Times still clings to the delusion that the ‘Arab Spring’ was the harbinger of democracy in the region. Although it coyly concedes that ‘the path of change is strewn with uncertainties’ such as the fact that ‘Sunni extremist parties have gained electoral support in Egypt, while Coptic Christians have suffered murderous attacks’, such, ah, ‘uncertainties' do not deter the Times from concluding nevertheless that ‘The Arab Spring is nonetheless a movement as inspiring as the fall of communism.’

Missing the Mark -- Again... Oliver North
Excerpt: Our so-called mainstream media have launched a new anti-military feeding frenzy. The furor is over a crude 39-second video showing four Marines apparently urinating on the bodies of three dead Taliban combatants. In hysteric rhetoric akin to "news reports" on the 2004 Abu Ghraib photos, hordes of print and broadcast "correspondents" rushed to describe the viral video, which surfaced Jan. 11, as evidence of an "atrocity" and "desecration" that reflects the "depravity" of our military in general and the U.S. Marines in particular. As usual, the effort to denigrate our armed forces means that the potentates of the press ignored far more important stories.

The Anti-Kodak: How a U.S. Firm Innovates and Thrives
Excerpt: Milliken & Co. of Spartanburg, S.C., arguably should have been crushed by global competition, just like Kodak. Its roots are in the textile industry, a labor-intensive business that long ago decamped for lower wages abroad, leaving abandoned mills throughout the Southeast. And yet a visit to Milliken's vast campus finds the company thriving.

Complete Civil War submarine unveiled for first time
Excerpt: Confederate Civil War vessel H.L. Hunley, the world's first successful combat submarine when it sank a Union ship in 1864, was unveiled in full and unobstructed for the first time on Thursday, capping a decade of careful preservation. "No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete. We're going to see it today," said engineer John King as a crane at a Charleston conservation laboratory slowly lifted a massive steel truss covering the top of the submarine.

Must Read: Mr. Obama’s 99% — Are We Poor or Just Unequal or Both or Neither? By Victor Davis Hanson.
Excerpt: The 2012 campaign is heating up and we can see the outlines of an impending us/them class war. But in our strange 21st-century world, lots of crazy things blur the president’s 1%/99% divide. We watch the super-rich struggle for ever creative ways of blowing their money to distinguish themselves from the rest of us (cf. Johnny Depp’s [$50 million in income last year] hosting of a creepy, expensive costume Halloween party at the White House, in the style of the idle 18th-century French court). Meanwhile we see the “poor” near rioting over buying the first few pairs of Michael Jordan $200 sneakers, or mobbing for big screen televisions on holiday shopping sale outings. (Thanks to Capitalism, the poorest 5% in the USA are wealthier than 2/3rds of the world’s population. But we seem determined to kill the goose that has laid our golden eggs. Robert A. Heinlein wrote: “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded--here and there, now and then--are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck.’” We are about to have a lot of “bad luck.” I fear fiscal collapse followed by social and political collapse. ~Bob.)

Will Generation 'Gimme' Work for the American Dream? Eye-opening insight into America's youth
We’re doomed, doomed I say. ~Bob.

A Think Test
Not political. I was 20/25. ~Bob.

Allen West on the Marines Incident: 'Shut Your Mouth, War Is Hell'
Excerpt: Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a former Army lieutenant colonel, sends THE WEEKLY STANDARD an email commenting on the Marines' video, and has given us permission to publish it. “I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah. “All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq? (In order to respect Islam, we should institute rules treating Jihadist prisoners exactly as they treat prisoners. ~Bob.)

Muslim holds ex-wife prisoner on toilet while assaulting her
Excerpt: A devout Muslim held his ex-wife prisoner on the toilet for an hour and physically assaulted her as punishment for wearing Western clothes. Khalique Miah has been jailed for 18 months for the attack on Zahanara Begum. She was on the loo when her former husband burst in dressed in black, wielding a hammer and referring to her underwear as ‘Satan’. (Peeing on dead enemies: un-Islamic. Beating live wife on toilet with hammer: very-Islamic. Got it? ~Bob.)

Nearly 1 Million Workers Vanished Under Obama
Excerpt: Initial jobless claims unexpectedly jumped by 24,000 last week to 399,000 as more workers lost their jobs, the Labor Department said Thursday. At the same time, the economy continues to lose workers.

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