Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Political Digest for January 24, 2012

The Old Jarhead Blog. Bringing you news and information the MSM is too busy covering American Idol, celebrity affairs and sensational missing person cases to cover. Please forward to friends who need to be informed.

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Sen. Mark Kirk suffers stroke, undergoes surgery for swelling
Excerpt: Republican Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) was hospitalized Saturday after experiencing a stroke, his office said Monday. Kirk's office said he suffered the stroke on Saturday and underwent surgery on Monday to reduce swelling in his brain.

Mitt supporters are trashing Newt. Newt supporters are trashing Mitt. Neither will vote for the other in November. Obama supporters are smiling slyly.

Must Read: World War
Read this and tell me we are not in deep trouble. ~Bob. Excerpt: CNN reports that a draft treaty gives China total control over three big areas, including gas and oil deposits both on the ground and in the Gulf. All personnel are Chinese, not Iranian. Security is in the hands of the Chinese, not the Iranians. There are now upwards of ten thousand Chinese military men in Iran, organizing operations at these sites, which are slated to remain under Chinese control well into the 2020s.

Obama: Iran Has Nuclear Rights; I Did Not Want to Sanction Its Bank
Excerpt: The threat by the Islamic regime in Iran to close down the Strait of Hormuz and of Revolutionary Guards Navy boats harassing U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf has caused President Obama to send secret messages to the regime stating his concerns over the closure of the strait and the possibility of an accidental war. Since then, Iranian officials have been revealing the contents of President Obama’s letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which indicates a deep desire by the U.S. president for a dialogue with the radical leaders of Iran. However, on Saturday, Iranian officials also claimed that an oral message by Obama delivered through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran is even more revealing than the letter delivered to the Iranian supreme leader. (Add this to today’s article by Ledeen above and see how comfortable you feel with an Iran that threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz and that could already have one or more nuclear weapons or will soon. Trouble is coming. Ron P. No, Ron, trouble is here. Disaster is coming! ~Bob.)

George Soros: Collapsing US Economy to
Spark Street
Excerpt: As the U.S. economy worsens, protests such as those carried out by the Occupy Wall Street movement will turn ugly, breaking down into waves of violent unrest across the nation, says billionaire financier George Soros. (Who will be financing the unrest? Who will be making money off it? ~Bob.)

In Ireland, you can bet on what cliché Obama uses first. Really.
Excerpt: You can also bet on which cliché Obama will use first in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address:

Obama is a ‘vulture socialist’ by Roger Hedgecock
Excerpt: Obama took money from Americans by force (did you think the IRS was voluntary?) and borrowed money from the Chinese when taxation did not yield enough money. Obama then applied the money to create/subsidize companies to make products he knew people didn’t want at prices they could not afford.

Ex-CIA Chief: Bomb Iranian Revolutionary Guards
Excerpt: The United States should consider military strikes against not just Iran’s nuclear sites but the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard infrastructure, argued former CIA director James Woolsey in a radio interview today. Comparing the Guards to Adolph Hitler’s blackshirts, Woolsey named several “fair game” Guard-related targets, including Iran’s space program, ballistic missile program, training facilities and the Guard’s substantial commercial interests. (This would violate the Obama Doctrine: only bomb countries like Libya that offer no threat to us. ~Bob.)

Opinion: For America’s children, education outlook grows only dimmer By Juan Williams
Excerpt: Thirty percent of America’s high school students drop out and never graduate. Fewer than half of the nation’s black and Hispanic students graduate on time from high school. The scandalous bottom line here is that more than 1 million students drop out of American public schools every year. That works out to more than 6,000 students every day and one student every 26 seconds. (Thanks for noticing, Juan, that politically powerful teachers unions and progressive educational nostrums have destroyed education in the United States. How many high school graduates can tell you who their two US Senators are, name the three branches of government, balance a checkbook, find Iraq or even New York on a map or tell you who we fought in WWII and why? And forget understanding really tough things like the law of supply and demand. ~Bob.)

Opinion: Europe and reelection fears could force lawmakers into debt action By Judd Gregg
Excerpt: First, if you are a liberal member of Congress, you are holding most of the cards, and to achieve your goals all you have to do is run out the calendar. Unless Congress intervenes, at the beginning of next year an automatic sequestration theoretically will occur that will cut $500 billion to $600 billion in defense spending over the next 10 years. And if Congress doesn’t act, also beginning next year, former President George W. Bush’s tax rates will lapse, which means a half trillion to $2 trillion in tax increases.

How Good Are the Government's Deficit and Debt Projections and Should We Care?
Excerpt: The Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) annual Budget and Economic Output report provides deficit projections for the current fiscal year (FY) and the next 10 FYs. Though these reports are widely followed, CBO projections are consistently inaccurate, and become more inaccurate as the projection length increases, say Kevin L. Kliesen and Daniel L. Thornton of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. While the CBO predicted in 2001 that the publicly held debt of the federal government (then about $3.5 trillion) would be eliminated by 2010, it actually increased to $9 trillion. While many defend the projection by arguing that much of the debt was accumulated ameliorating the effects of an unforeseeable recession, the projection was very inaccurate excluding the recession -- the debt level reached $5 trillion before the recession began. In 2001, the CBO projected that government budget surpluses would span the entire decade, yet deficits began as early as 2002.

Private Equity Is a Force for Good
Excerpt: When Mitt Romney challenged Ted Kennedy for his Senate seat in 1994, Kennedy made Romney's private equity career a primary focus of the campaign. With Romney racking up impressive victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney's opponents are resorting to the "Hail Mary" play of rehashing Kennedy's strategy of portraying Romney as a heartless Gordon Gekko who reveled in destroying jobs for profit. As economists, we are unqualified to assess the political impact of these attacks. We can, however, state that the academic literature supports the view that the private equity industry serves an important and positive function in our economy.

Attacking religion ---BamCare’s assault on freedom
Excerpt: Friday’s ruling by the Department of Health and Human Services proved yet again that ObamaCare’s critics are right. It’s a breathtaking attack not only on the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, but also on the separation of church and state. Kathleen Sebelius, the nominally Catholic HHS chief, bluntly informed religious medical institutions that offer services to the general public that she will indeed compel them to offer free birth control, sterilization and “morning after” pills as part of their employees’ health-care plans. They have exactly one year to get with the program or suffer the consequences.

EU raises stakes with Iran oil embargo
Excerpt: The European Union and Iran raised the stakes Monday in their test of wills over the Islamic republic's nuclear program, with the bloc banning the purchase of Iranian oil and Iran threatening to retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world's crude is transported. The escalating confrontation is fraught with risks - of rising energy prices, global financial instability, and potential military activity to keep the strait open. (The good news is the EU finally realizes they are close enough to Iran to be threatened by an Iranian bomb. The bad news is the Iranians will simply sell their oil to the Russians, Chinese, and Indians—though probably for a lower than usual price—and anyone else who chooses to ignore the sanctions. Twelve years of these sanctions hardly impacted daily life for Iraq's Saddam at all. A US aircraft carrier, the Abraham Lincoln, has transited the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians might choose to consider that an act of war. A Russian aircraft carrier is currently near Syria, a few hundred miles away. Ron P.)

Something to Argue About By George Will
Excerpt: The Supreme Court can pack large portents in small details. When in late March it considers the constitutionality of Obamacare, there will be five and a half hours of oral argument -- the most in almost half a century. This is because the individual mandate (Does Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce extend to punishing the inactivity of not buying insurance?) is just one of the law's constitutionally dubious features.

Excerpt: Since the Second World War, the pattern in the global political economy has been for the United States to adjust to systemic shocks better than any potential challenger country. A lot of very smart people have predicted that this time was different -- the United States wouldn't be able to do it again. These trends suggest that maybe, just maybe, that might be wrong. Am I missing anything? 

Florida GOP Primary: Gingrich 41%, Romney 32%
Excerpt: Less than two weeks ago, Mitt Romney had a 22-point lead in Florida, but that’s ancient history in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Following his big win in South Carolina on Saturday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich now is on top in Florida by nine. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Florida Republican Primary Voters, taken Sunday evening, finds Gingrich earning 41% of the vote with Romney in second at 32%. Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum runs third with 11%, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul attracts support from eight percent (8%). Nine percent (9%) remain undecided.

56% Favor Building Keystone Pipeline, Think It’s Good for Economy
Excerpt: Most voters still favor building the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas and think it will be good for the economy despite President Obama’s decision last week to delay the project for environmental reasons. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor the pipeline, with 36% who Strongly Favor it. Just 27% are opposed, including 12% who Strongly Oppose the project. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided. (Two weeks ago, I was trying to get used to the idea of Mitt as the nominee. Now I’m trying to get used to Newt. ~Bob.)

Unlicensed to Kill
Excerpt: On November 16, 2010 my son Drew, a 25-year-old was killed by an unlicensed driver in San Francisco. On June 14, 2010, Roberto Galo was caught driving the wrong way down a one way street, driving without a license and driving without insurance. He was arrested and his car was impounded. Less than 24 hours later he had his car back and continued to drive it until he killed my son.

Immigration authorities released man who went on to kill 3 in North Miami
Excerpt: Instead, when Dufrene’s state prison term was up, Miami immigration authorities in October 2010 released him from custody. Two months later, North Miami police say, he slaughtered three people, including a 15-year-old girl in a murder case that remains as baffling today as it did the afternoon the bodies were discovered.

U.S. Drone Strike Kills Foreign Commander Fighting for Militants in Somalia
Excerpt: A senior foreign commander fighting with Shabab Islamic militants was killed in an American drone strike a few miles south of the capital over the weekend, according to Shabab officials. The Shabab officials held a news conference to publicize the attack, identifying the commander as Bilal al-Barjawi, 27, a close associate of a Qaeda leader killed last year in Somalia.

Two years after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, the campaign to silence opponents is becoming more censorious
Excerpt: Two years ago the Supreme Court upheld the right of an incorporated nonprofit organization to distribute, air and advertise a turgid documentary about Hillary Clinton called, appropriately enough, "Hillary: The Movie." From this seemingly innocuous and obvious First Amendment decision has sprung a campaign of disinformation and alarmism rarely seen in American politics.

How the U.S. Should Handle the Islamist Rise in Egypt
Excerpt: From an American perspective, the situation in Egypt is a nightmare. One year after
Tahrir Square
triumphantly toppled a tyrant, Islamists are poised to profit from Egyptian "people power." They, not liberals or secularists, proved nimble at the electoral process, with the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the even more fundamentalist Nour Party winning about two-thirds of the seats in Egypt's next parliament.

Deadly shipwreck line offers victims 30% off their NEXT voyage
30% discount, the lucky stiffs! ~Bob. Excerpt: Carnival Corp. is pitching a tasteless “30 percent discount on future cruises” to survivors of its deadly Costa Concordia shipwreck off the Italian coast, in an apparent bid to stave off lawsuits. The tactless move by Costa Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival, came as rescuers pulled a 13th body from the crashed cruise liner, reports surfaced of possibly unaccounted-for stowaways killed in the disaster — and investigators hunted for a laptop computer hurriedly discarded by the disgraced ship captain.

Excerpt: Let’s consider just a few of the ways your doctor is constrained, unlike any other professional you deal with. … Sometime in the early part of the last century, all the other professionals in our society — lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, etc. — discovered the telephone. It’s a handy device. Ideal for communicating with clients. Yet even today I find that I can rarely talk to a doctor by phone. Why is that? The short answer is: Medicare doesn’t pay for telephone consultations. Medicare has a list of about 7,500 tasks it pays physicians to perform. And talking by phone isn’t on the list — at least in a way that makes it practical. Private insurance tends to pay the way Medicare pays. So do most employers.

I Remember the Day…
Excerpt: That same day two of my teachers took me aside and essentially told me the following: “Nick, you’re a smart guy. You don’t have to join the military. You should go to college, instead.” …. What I will say is that when a 16 year-old kid is being told that attending West Point is going to be bad for his future then there is a dangerous disconnect in America, and entirely too many Americans have no idea what kind of burdens our military is bearing.

Around the World on $69 Million in Welfare Funds

Opinion: The Dark Side of Science
Excerpt: There are also the dark purposes to which science (and synthetic biology in particular) can be put. Worries range from the development of pathogenic bioweapons to the potential contamination of native gene pools in our environment. The question is, are scientists responsible for the potentially negative impacts of their work? (Would/should Frankenstein have been held responsible for the monster he created? These questions ARE important to scientists. Just for example, some were having heated arguments over the “rights, if any, of the frozen dead” back in the 60s, long before there were any corpsicles. Ron P.)

Mitt Romney faces a perfect mess
Excerpt: Rarely has there been a figure in American politics whose personality and achievements—taken as individual parts—so powerfully conveyed both uncommon success and a kind of reassuring conventionality. But these same traits—taken as a whole—have produced someone struggling mightily to connect with the national mood and moment, much less reassure voters that his experiences and values align with their own. (Good training if he wins. The next president is going to face the biggest mess since Lincoln took office in 1861. ~Bob.)

How Marxism Killed Keystone
Excerpt: The global warming apocalypse and its Elmer Gantry, Al Gore, may have faded from public view lately, but that old-time green religion is still making mischief. President Obama has just delayed until after November’s election a decision on the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline. This truly shovel-ready project would create thousands of blue-collar jobs, help hold down the price of gasoline, and lessen our dependence on oil imported from thugs like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

Violent Jihadist Video Riles Norway
Excerpt: It was, shall we say, an interesting week in Norway. On Tuesday, January 17, a video was posted on YouTube that called for Norwegian soldiers to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Over images of Norwegian soldiers and of Norway’s prime minister, foreign minister, and crown prince, a text calling for Allah to “destroy them and let it be painful” was read aloud in Arabic, with subtitles in Norwegian. The video, which concluded with an image of Norway’s flag in flames, urged Muslims to show up for a protest rally on Friday outside the parliament building in Oslo.

Gay "honor killing" movie shakes Turkey up
Excerpt: The main suspect in the killing, a fugitive still wanted by Turkish police, is Yildiz's father, who could not accept that his only son was in a homosexual relationship. The case, widely believed to be Turkey's first gay "honor killing", has inspired a movie "Zenne", which opened on January 13 and explores gay sexual identity and prejudice in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey.

Excerpt: A former CIA officer who told reporters he participated in the interrogation of terrorist Abu Zubaydah has been charged with leaking classified secrets about CIA operatives and other information to reporters, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

It's time to end the failed war on drugs - by Sir Richard Branson, Telegraph UK
Excerpt: For all the successes I’ve had in business, I’ve also learnt to accept when things go wrong, work out why, and try to find a better way. The war on drugs is a failed enterprise. We need to have the courage to learn the lessons and move on.

Britain, US and France send warships through Strait of Hormuz
Excerpt: This deployment defied explicit Iranian threats to close the waterway. It coincided with an escalation in the West's confrontation with Iran over the country's nuclear ambitions. European Union foreign ministers are today expected to announce an embargo on Iranian oil exports, amounting to the most significant package of sanctions yet agreed.

Losing Nemo - by James Delingpole, Telegraph UK
Excerpt: Drowning polar bears you can just about handle (especially when you learn that the story was cooked up by a pack of Arctic researchers ravening after hard cash). But what kind of unutterable bastard would you have to be not care about clownfish, probably the cutest fish in all the oceans. And also the most intelligent. In a film I saw once, a clown fish was captured in the sea, put into an aquarium at an Australian dentist's, and actually masterminded the whole escape of all the fish in the tank back to the sea, that's how clever they are.

Can trolls give you crabs? - by James Delingpole, Telegraph UK
Excerpt: Trolls are like toilet seats: though they are crawling with germs and other foul substances, you cannot usually become infected by simple contact with them. This blog remains pubic-lice-, scabies- and ebola-free. Should one, though, encourage them by giving the oxygen of publicity? A good question and I'm glad you asked. The answer is: it all depends.

Dr. Tim Nerenz, I Support Scott Walker Rally, 1/21/12

Mortgage lenders, states reach draft settlement over deceptive foreclosure practices
Excerpt: The nation's five largest mortgage lenders have agreed to overhaul their industry after deceptive foreclosure practices drove homeowners out of their homes, government officials said Monday. A draft settlement between the banks and U.S. states has been sent to state officials for review. (Let’s see, we bought a small 2/2 condo at about half the mortgage we could have qualified for. Even though its value has declined about 20% over the past 30 months, our mortgage is not underwater, because we pay extra each month. Nope, this won’t help me. Damn being fiscally responsible. ~Bob.)

Lt Col Allen West: "Yes, Obama is ‘the food-stamp president"
Excerpt: Rep. Allen B. West took to the airwaves Monday to defend former House Speaker Newt Gingrich against charges from a top Democrat that Mr. Gingrich used racist "code words" to fuel his double-digit win over the weekend in the South Carolina Republican primary.

Excerpt: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the delay is symptomatic of a fiscally reckless administration. "I am deeply disappointed in this President’s abdication of leadership when it comes to prioritizing Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars. The decision to delay the release of his budget again could not come at a more precarious moment for our fiscal and economic future," Ryan said.

Worth Reading: The 2012 Election Circus — The Acts, The Players, The Hype
Excerpt: So how long can the wild Gingrich needle graph go up and down, given his uncanny ability to die and be reborn a thousand times? I’d say about a month longer when one of two things will occur. One scenario: He is so thoroughly vetted that no more disclosures can emerge and he stops expounding ad hoc on Newtology in a way that confirms an undisciplined and wacky nature. In that case, he has a 50/50 chance of winning the nomination, regardless of the current status of his funding, organization, and endorsements. (Whoa! Hanson gives no slack to anyone! Nevertheless, Americans will face the eternal “hiring dilemma” later this year. At least once in their professional life, every hiring manager constructs the “perfect” candidate. Then, applicants are culled in a search for that perfect candidate, frequently resulting in no hire being made despite numerous applications. The only road to success is to hire the best who apply while trying to get better applicants in the future. I feel safe predicting Jesus Christ will not be on the ballot for either party. Yet, some candidates are clearly better than others. Like Hanson, I will vote against Obama’s policies even if I’m not thrilled with the candidate I end up voting for. I don’t need thrills up and down my leg, not even brilliance; just simple competence will satisfy me for now. Ron P. Well, Ron, you vote in Massachusetts, Hanson in California and I in Illinois, so we won’t matter. If it’s close in any of those states, Obama will start making his $100M on the speaking tour four years early. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: The Man Who Gave Us Newt - Mark Steyn, National Review Online
Excerpt: Why is the stump speech so awful? “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.” Mitt paid some guy to write this insipid pap. And he paid others to approve it. Not only is it bland and generic, it’s lethal to him in a way that it wouldn’t be to Gingrich or Perry or Bachmann or Paul because it plays to his caricature — as a synthetic, stage-managed hollow man of no fixed beliefs.

The Gingrich Challenge - The Wall Street Journal
Excerpt: There's no denying the breadth of the former House speaker's triumph in the Palmetto State. He won among rank-and-file Republicans, tea partiers, men and women, all manner of conservatives, most income groups, and every age group save those under 30 (who went narrowly for Ron Paul over Mr. Gingrich).

House Judiciary Committee Will Probe Obama’s ‘Recess’ Appointments
Excerpt: Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced Monday that on Feb. 15, his committee will explore the constitutionality of the president’s move, accusing him of wrenching the Constitution out of shape and setting a “dangerous precedent” for future administrations.

Excerpt: So let me second Mark’s notion that the man who has resurrected Newt is the same guy who put him in the ground in Iowa, Mitt Romney. In fact, all the anti-Romneys, past and present — Newt twice, Santorum, Perry, Bachmann — arose to fill the felt need of the conservative electorate that the once-rejected former Massachusetts governor was highly unlikely to have improved with age, and that just because it was “his turn” was no reason to hand him the nomination à la Bob Dole and John McCain.

Meet the ‘Preppers’ — The Americans Stockpiling Food & Water for a Possible Collapse
Excerpt: There are plenty of issues worth fearing, which is why a subset of the nation is preparing for what they see as impending calamity. These individuals, dubbed “preppers,” are stocking up on food, guns, water and other items that they may need should the economy erupt or a massive natural disaster strike. With so many possibilities for problematic occurrences, these individuals want to ensure that they can live beyond any tragically defining moments.

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