Friday, May 31, 2013

Old Jarhead's Political SitRep for June 1, 2013

Old Jarhead's Political SitRep for June 1, 2013
Robert A. Hall
Your one-stop-shop for political news and opinion--who needs newspapers or TV? Please forward to friends who need to be informed. This SitRep (Military for “Situation Report”) is created by many readers who send me items for inclusion, which I would have likely missed or skipped. And I can only spend at most three hours a night pulling stuff, plus the healthcare or economic stuff that crosses my desk at work. As always, I—and you—owe them thanks and appreciation. I post articles because I think they are of interest and will stimulate thought and discussion. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article, or that I was able to verify the information presented, which is the responsibility of the author. I try not to post things that are false, or too far a stretch, regardless of the view point, but I don’t always succeed. As always on the Net, or in the legacy media, you must read critically and with skepticism.

Book Recommendation: Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America--and How We Can Get More of It. By Arthur C. Brooks
Excerpt: I heard the author speak at a conference a few years ago, was very impressed, and bought the book. But I proceeded to let it get buried in the reading pile under history, economic and political books. Thankfully, I finally read it—it’s a terrific book. Brooks is an economist and academic, and this book is data driven by population surveys, both in the US and around the world. He draws conclusions from the data, which you may not like. People wedded to a viewpoint that cannot be moved by data, left or right, are likely to hate it. There are many surprises here. Brooks looks at the data on what makes people happy or unhappy: religion, political views, marriage, jobs, incomes, charitable involvement, and so on, across demographic groups. This should be read especially by policy makers who might do well to understand what is likely to preserve and increase national happiness. My own take, which I put on my Old Jarhead Blog, has always been, “With all due respect to Tom Jefferson, ‘pursuing happiness’ doesn’t work. But if you commit yourself to things you care about more than yourself, such as family, job, non-profit cause, church or temple, community, or service to your country, happiness will find you.” Nothing here changed my mind on that point, though the data surprised me in some areas as they did Brooks. Arthur C. Brooks is Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. ~Bob

Michigan woman, 33, killed in Syria fight
Excerpt: The family of a 33-year-old Michigan woman says the FBI confirmed Thursday that she was killed in fighting in Syria. She was identified as Nicole Lynn Mansfield of Flint. … Speelman’s mother, Monica Mansfield Speelman, told the Detroit Free Press that her niece was a convert to Islam who married an Arab immigrant several years ago but later divorced him.

The stubbornness of Barack Obama. Why it’s always worked for him, and why it might not now. By Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan
Excerpt: President Obama and his senior advisers are convinced that they are usually right and that Washington conventional wisdom — formed by Members of Congress, reporters and the various political professionals in both parties — is usually wrong.

Why Government Aid Programs Aren’t the Best Way to End Poverty. By Christopher Coyne
Excerpt: There are two reasons why state-provided aid cannot create society-wide prosperity. First, policymakers do not have access to the knowledge needed to allocate scarce resources to their best uses. In his critique of socialism in the 1930s and 1940s, Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek made this exact point, noting that even the most qualified and benevolent planners lack the knowledge to produce even the most basic items in a cost-effective manner.

Father of shot man linked to Boston suspects wants FBI tried
Excerpt: The father of a Chechen immigrant shot dead during FBI questioning over his links with the Boston bombing suspects said on Thursday that the U.S. agents responsible should face trial…. Abdulbaki Todashev questioned that account at a news conference in Moscow, saying his son was unarmed when he was shot seven times…. Todashev showed reporters photographs of his son's shirtless corpse on a medical table with several stitched-up wounds on his torso and arm and one on his head.

U.S. Corporate Tax Reform Could Revitalize the Economy
Excerpt: The U.S. tax system has become more complicated and convoluted over the last 50 years, and the U.S. federal government is now paying the price. The U.S. tax code is over 60,000 pages long, and has thousands of deductions and exemptions ripe for the taking by high earning companies. To maintain satisfactory revenue for the government, Congress must reform the tax code, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute. Our tax system has three fundamental weaknesses: (1) marginal tax rates are too high; (2) the structure of both personal and corporate taxes is much too complicated; and (3) the incentives for political mischief at the IRS are high while the likelihood of detection is low. It turns out all three of these weaknesses are related, and they have one easy solution: tax simplification.

U.S. Multinational Corporations Pay More Taxes Than We Think
Excerpt: In recent years, President Obama has argued that multinational companies are avoiding taxes so the United States should establish a minimum tax on business income. Unfortunately, such claims are either based upon a misunderstanding of how U.S. international tax rules work or are simply careless portrayals of the way in which U.S. companies pay taxes on their foreign profits, says Kyle Pomerleau, an economist for the Tax Foundation's Center for Federal Tax Policy. The United States has a complicated "worldwide" system of taxation that requires American businesses to pay the 35 percent federal corporate tax rate on their income no matter where it is earned -- domestically or abroad. When it comes to foreign profits, companies pay income taxes not once but twice.

TV Ratings: MSNBC Falls Below HLN in May, Rachel Maddow Hits Lows
Excerpt: Averaging 539,000 viewers in primetime and 175,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 demographic, MSNBC suffered double-digit drops from last May -- down a respective 20 and 19 percent. Losses were less substantial in total day, down 10 percent to an average 346,000 viewers and down 7 percent to 115,000 adults 25-54, while all other nets pulled growth in multiple categories.

Liberal retreat (Liberal Blogger)
Excerpt: The online left has seen a steep decline in traffic since the election as well, which indicates to me that our audience in general is simply not interested in following politics at the moment. … Short of that (or something else catastrophic) my impression is that liberals are either bored or disillusioned right now for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that a liberal majority has been effectively obstructed and the president seems to be ineffectual.

Under Obamacare, Emergency Rooms May Get Even More Crowded. By Stephanie Armour
Excerpt: Dunford anticipates that the Affordable Care Act will bring a surge of patients to his ER and those around the country—the opposite of what’s supposed to happen. 

Obama second-term campaign activity three times Bush’s. By Tim Cavanaugh
Excerpt: Since his second term began, Obama has headlined at least 15 fundraising events, according to an analysis of presidential events by The Daily Caller. That’s three times as many as President George W. Bush attended in the first six months of his second term, and a few more than President Bill Clinton — an inveterate campaigner who was widely condemned for spending too much time on politics during his presidency — attended in the same period of his second term.. (Between golfing, fundraising and reading the newspaper to see what his administration is doing, it's hard to believe the president has much time to rest. –Daily Caller)

Holder media backlash intensifies
Excerpt: Major news outlets lined up to reject Attorney General Eric Holder’s offer of an off-the-record meeting Thursday as his conflict with the press corps escalated. The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Huffington Post and CNN were the first major outlets to decline the offer, and Fox News, Reuters, CBS News, McClatchy and NBC News followed. The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, ABC News and Politico have said they plan on attending the meeting.

Excerpt: House defense lawmakers are debating whether to change the rules of war for U.S. counter-terrorism operations as part of the Defense Authorization bill for 2014. According to draft language obtained by The Hill, the changes would require President Obama and the Pentagon to review all groups or individuals now characterized as “associated forces” under the current rules…. The debate coincides with President Obama's promise last Thursday to repeal the standing rules of war on terror.

McCain: ‘Regrettable’ if photo was taken with Syrian rebel kidnappers
Excerpt: A spokesman for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday that it would be "regrettable" if the lawmaker had posed for a photograph with Syrian rebels involved in kidnapping Lebanese Shiite pilgrims. The spokesman cautioned, however, that no one had identified themselves by the alleged kidnappers' names during McCain's meetings with opposition forces in Syria over the weekend. The Lebanon Daily Star reported Thursday that McCain took a photo with Mohammad Nour and Abu Ibrahim, who were identified by a freed captive as Syrian rebels who took part in the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims a year ago. )On Syria, I’m with Obama and “go slow,” rather than McCain wanting to arm people who will kill us. ~Bob.)

U.S. senator McCain pictured with Syrian rebel kidnapper: paper
Excerpt: McCain, a Republican, has been an outspoken advocate for U.S. military aid to the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad and made a short, highly publicised trip to meet rebel commanders in Syria three days ago. (This is one of the reasons I sometimes want to go screaming out the door and jump in front of a bus. McCain has insisted that the United States could locate the "right people" to help among rebel ranks infiltrated with radicalized Islamists. It's hard to pull the wool over the eyes of such an astute judge of character as John McCain, isn't it? "A spokesman for McCain said none of the people he met identified themselves as Nour and it had not been his intention to meet anyone of that name." So, that's it? That's his excuse? That the guy didn't identify himself as a bad guy? Wow! – LLW)

Ted Cruz Blasts Eric Holder, Calls For His Resignation Over His ‘Willingness To Disregard The Law’
Excerpt: It’s time President Barack Obama asked Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over his unprecedented “willingness to disregard the law,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Megyn Kelly on Thursday.

Armed Homeland Security agents monitor Tea Party at IRS protests
Excerpt: Jason Howerton reported that it remains unclear why "federal officials felt the Tea Party presence required more than the attention of local law enforcement."

Belgian Muslims: “We Believe Sharia Will Dominate Worldwide”
Excerpt: The graffiti on a building in Belgium says it all: “Welcome to ‘Belgistan.” In fact, some are now calling it the Muslim capital of Europe. A CBN correspondent interviews a representative from Shariah4Belgium. He argues that Muslims will take over country in a few years — we have many wives and have many children. He states that they fully intend to enforce Shariah law when they have a majority.

Liberals Rip Michelle Bachmann As She Decides Not To Seek Re-election
Excerpt: Michelle Bachmann, for all her faults, is a woman worth her salt. No matter the circumstances, she sticks to her guns. Her formation of the Tea Party Caucus and stern opposition to Obamacare has made her a constant stick in the President’s craw. Like stepping on a nail, Michelle Bachmann continually sent shocks up the spines of complacent Liberals. That is why it is truly unfortunate that she will not be seeking re-election next year.

A Vietnam-Era Marine on “Social Engineering” at the U.S. Naval Academy. By Mark Thompson
Excerpt: Most of us who have actually fought “in the trenches” in wartime don’t really care what race, creed or color our comrades-in-arms are. When we call for support in a “danger close” situation we simply want the best qualified decision-makers in place to be dropping the bombs, firing the missiles or lobbing artillery our way. I don’t see how relaxed admissions and retention standards for minorities (or anyone else) at the premier officer training university in the country, does anything to foster confidence that we will have that first team in place when faced with life and death situations.

Sami Samir Hassoun Sentenced: Would-Be Wrigleyville Backpack Bomber Gets 23 Years
Excerpt: Everyone at Sami Samir Hassoun's sentencing in a crowded courtroom in Chicago could not help but think of the bombs that went off a month ago concealed in backpacks on the East Coast, killing three people and wounding hundreds more, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said. "Let's give the elephant in the room a name: It's called the Boston Marathon," he said. "What would have happened had (Hassoun's) bomb been real would have made Boston look like a minor incident." (Personally, I’d shoot him. But that’s just me. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: He had had enough of the "decadence of western morals". So the "young North African" put an enormous paving stone into his rucksack. In mid-afternoon, he went to throw it through the window of the sex shop "Sex appeal" in Bolzano, in Trentino-Alto Adige. He then remained, calmly awaiting the arrival of the police "while shouting about the glory of Islam". Between shouts, he puffed on his cigarette. (attacking sex shops? Now they’ve gone to far. Even Liberals might get upset. ~Bob.)

Lawyer: UK envoys sought suspect release in Kenya
Excerpt: British diplomats recommended that a British man detained in Kenya 2 1/2 years ago on suspicion of attempting to join Islamic fighters in Somalia be freed, the lawyer who represented him said Thursday. The man was let go and last week allegedly helped butcher a British soldier on the streets of London.

Was It Worth It? After 10 Years On Strike, Hotel Union Throws In The Towel: Strikers to return under the terms of their 2003 contract
Excerpt: After 10 years of picketing and rowdy rallies outside a downtown Chicago hotel, UNITE-HERE has decided to call off its decade-long strike.

Benghazi Terrorists: ‘Dr. Morsi Sent Us.’ By Cynthia Farahat 
Excerpt: The terrorist attack in Benghazi is far more disturbing than previously thought. Although it has not been reported in the U.S. media, the possibility exists that the Egyptian government may have played an operational role in the attack. YouTube videos of the terrorist strike raise a serious problem that only an Arabic speaker would detect: some of the terrorists are speaking in the Egyptian dialect of the Arabic language.

Message to “Moderate” Muslims
Pat Condell on the London Murder.

The View from Londonistan. By Mark Hendrickson 
Excerpt: Today, the United Kingdom and its values and liberties are under attack again. While we were enjoying Scotland’s beauty, Drummer Lee Rigby was butchered in broad daylight on the streets of London by two fanatical Islamists. We had heard about it from a taxi driver in Edinburgh, but when it really hit home for me was after we got back to London and I saw his wedding photo in one of the newspapers. 

Illegal Alien With 7 Kids Got Food Stamps, Housing & Social Security – for 20 Years!
Excerpt: Another day brings yet another exposé that which reminds us how illegal immigration is literally bankrupting this nation – and which will no doubt be totally ignored by the mainstream media in their coordinated effort to shove amnesty down our throats. Illegal alien and mother of seven, Florida resident Marita Nelson, receives $240 in food stamps, monthly medications, $700 in Social Security and a housing allowance.

Excerpt: “US forces did not kill Osama bin Laden. He detonated himself to avoid being captured after American forces raided his hiding place in the Pakistan in 2011,” said Fattah. “The American president lied when he claimed that bin Laden was buried in the sea,” Fattah said. “Bin Laden’s body parts were cut into multiple pieces, which is similar to suicide attacks following the bombing, so as not to leave any clue to the U.S. forces to identify him.”

Excerpt: School officials at Dowell Elementary School in the town of Lusby proceeded to question the five-year-old for over two hours before finally calling his mother, whom The Post also does not name. The principal eventually called the boy’s mother at 10:50 a.m. By that time, the five-year-old had wet his pants (which the mother called highly unusual).

Former Illinois state representative Al Salvi, who ran as a Republican against Democrat Dick Durbin in his state’s 1996 U.S. Senate race, said that embattled IRS official Lois Lerner intimidated him in her then-capacity as a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) official and told him she would drop various complaints against him if he never ran for office again. (Impossible to prove, I’d think. ~Bob.)

Obamacare: Higher Premiums For Smoking, Fatness
Excerpt: The Department of Health and Human Services has issued regulations for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which allow health insurance companies to raise premiums up to 50% for smokers and up to 30% for overweight individuals—unless they participate in "wellness programs" provided by HHS. Democratic lawmakers sold the controversial law to the public by claiming it would end discrimination by health insurers over pre-existing conditions and advanced age. The new regulations does (sic) allow for discrimination in these areas, including higher premiums for individuals with high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Excerpt: But one provision that’s gotten much less attention — until recently — relates to smoking; specifically, the ACA allows payers to treat tobacco users very differently by opening the door to much higher premiums for this population.

Can My Company’s Wellness Program Really Ask Me To Do That?
Excerpt: Under federal law, your employer can vary your health insurance premium by up to 20 percent based on a “health factor;” that goes up to 30% as of 2014 and the government could eventually raise it as high as 50%. Why should you foot the bill for all your Marlboro-packing, Miller-cracking, Big-Mac-chomping co-workers? Readers, what do you think? On the one hand, if you’re a fit, non-smoking, careful eater, why should you have to help foot the bill for all your Marlboro-packing, Miller-cracking, Big-Mac-chomping co-workers? An unhealthy lifestyle is known to be a major contributor to health care bills. and health costs have skyrocketed for years, sending premiums through the roof, hurting businesses and costing jobs.

Misguided Energy Policy: Alone, Enough to Cause American Failure: The responses of Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse to the deadly tornado strike portend more disaster.
Excerpt: So it is not just for altruistic reasons that we were dismayed as we witnessed the U.S. in rapid decline — from being the world’s greatest creditor nation to the world’s greatest debtor. We are naturally frightened when we see America quickly retreat from being a strong, confident superpower to a nation so afraid of its own shadow that its government lets official representatives abroad be tortured and killed by your enemies, even when you have the military might to easily save them. Who will fill the vacuum as America, shackled by insecurity, weakness, and eventual poverty, is forced to withdraw from being the free world’s defender? I shudder to think.

A recent Gallup poll shows that a majority of people think that the federal government is too big and too powerful. Only 8 percent think that the government needs more power. So why do President Obama and the Democrats keep pushing for more spending and increased government in your life? (Except, of course, when they want the government to do something for them. ~Bob.)

This story actually could have two headlines. One is the one I used, in which the IRS abuse went much higher up in the chain than the agency or administration has admitted. The other is the source: NBC reported this.

DOJ: Social Media Posts Trashing Muslims May Violate Civil Rights
Excerpt: In its latest effort to protect followers of Islam in the U.S. the Obama Justice Department warns against using social media to spread information considered inflammatory against Muslims, threatening that it could constitute a violation of civil rights. The move comes a few years after the administration became the first in history to dispatch a U.S. Attorney General to personally reassure Muslims that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is dedicated to protecting them. In the unprecedented event, Attorney General Eric Holder assured a San Francisco-based organization (Muslim Advocates) that urges members not to cooperate in federal terrorism investigations that the “us versus them” environment created by the U.S. government, law enforcement agents and fellow citizens is unacceptable and inconsistent with what America is all about.

FBI Terrorism Task Force Targets Prolifers: Wants to question national crisis pregnancy center director
Excerpt: The FBI office charged with investigating terrorism has said it intends to question the national director of a chain of crisis pregnancy centers. The development is the latest in what pro-life activists have charged is a pattern of intimidation on the part of the Obama administration against pro-life activists. Agents of the Joint Domestic Terrorism Task Force told Chris Slattery, national director of Expectant Mother Care (EMC) FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, only that they wanted to meet him “for a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Bloc Challenges Britain on Welfare Rules
Excerpt: In a move certain to stoke British frustrations with the European Union, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm is taking Britain to court over restrictions on who can receive social security benefits. The European Commission, announcing its decision on Thursday, took issue with Britain’s tight criteria for residency benefits, which differ from a Europe-wide standard meant to ensure support for any citizen of a European Union country who lives in another member country.

Flashback, 1962: Monty Says Churchill Against British Common Market Entry

Promising African Development Fund Collapses
Excerpt: Today that program, the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund, is in its death throes, apparently victimized by mismanagement, insider dealings and a lack of oversight by federal officials. Current and former fund officials are fighting over money, and the eventual cost to American taxpayers of the fund’s missteps could run into the tens of millions of dollars, public filings indicate.

Nigeria arrests trio over 'Hezbollah cell'
Excerpt: Nigerian authorities have arrested three Lebanese men in northern Nigeria on suspicion of being members of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah. Soldiers uncovered a hidden arms cache that authorities believe belonged to members of the Shia political party and armed group, the military and secret police said on Thursday. (From the picture, their weapons cleaning isn’t up to Marine standards. ~Bob.)

42% Think Holder Should Resign, 24% Disagree
Excerpt: Most voters don’t approve of the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation of news reporters, and a plurality now thinks the department’s boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, should resign. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of Likely U.S. Voters have a favorable opinion of Holder, while 47% view him unfavorably. (And 35% think Holder is a judge on American Idol. ~Bob.)

IRS from The Patriot Post
Excerpt: As for how high up the ladder this scandal goes, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House an astounding 157 times during his tenure -- which happens to coincide with the targeting in question. His successor, Steven Miller, visited numerous times as well. But Shulman's predecessor in the Bush administration, Mark Everson, visited the White House just one time. So what gives? Shulman's first answer was, "Um, the Easter Egg Roll with my kids." Cute, but that doesn't explain why he visited the White House more than any cabinet member. He says he has "no memory" of discussing it and contends "it would not have been appropriate to have a conversation with anyone at the White House" on political audits at the IRS. Shulman further denied ever being told to scrutinize conservative groups. Then again, this is the same man who denied in March 2012 that the IRS was even targeting these groups. Can he be trusted now?

Second Amendment: Gun Makers Leave States from The Patriot Post
Excerpt: Connecticut has long been home to a number of firearm manufactures, but that's quickly changing following state lawmakers' decision to exploit the Sandy Hook massacre to increase gun restrictions. In fact, the state ranks number seven in firearm production, providing nearly 3,000 direct jobs and thousands more through business channels. But Mark Malkowski, founder and owner of Stag Arms, is the latest in a string of companies announcing their intention to set up shop elsewhere. "[T]he state seems to want to be able to both have their cake and eat it, too," notes HotAir's Erika Johnsen. "The new gun-control laws did not restrict gun manufacturing in Connecticut, but merely the ability of those businesses to sell and distribute what they manufacture in the state -- but they sure would like for those jobs to stick around!" In other words, they're more than happy to reap the benefits of booming business -- as long as the product is sold elsewhere. It's a typical leftist double standard. Colorado is facing its own backlash. Magpul Industries joined nearly two dozen plaintiffs, including 54 county sheriffs, in suing the state. The lawsuit's focus is on two recently implemented gun control measures: universal background checks, and a ban on "high-capacity" magazines (a term arbitrarily defined as a magazine holding more than 15 rounds). While Magpul is joining the fight, they're moving forward with relocating. Duane Liptak, director of product management and marketing, explained that the legal action is a matter of devotion and principle: "[W]e will not turn our back on our native state." Simultaneously, several lawmakers face recall efforts. The message here is that Democrats were naive to believe they could trample the Constitution without a fight. We commend those who are standing to defend Rule of Law.

The Buck Stops Where?

 ‘Rogue’ IRS agent who wrote threatening letters gets promotion
Excerpt: President Obama may have promised “to hold the responsible parties accountable” for the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative non-profit groups, but one of the agents at the center of the scandal was recently promoted, an IRS source tells The Washington Examiner. (Probably got a signed photo of the President for his wall, inscribed, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” ~Bob.)

Large majority opposes U.S. action in Syria, poll finds
Excerpt: Americans roundly reject U.S. military action to end Syria’s civil war, with opposition to an intervention unshaken by recent allegations that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons. Two in three Americans (68 percent) say the U.S. military should not attempt to end conflict in Syria if diplomatic efforts fail, according to a Gallup poll released Friday, with opposition cresting over 60 percent among Republicans, Democrats and independents alike.

Chinese Hackers by Jonah Goldberg, The Goldberg File
Excerpt: A new report says that the Chinese are hacking American computer networks at an alarming rate. This is hardly news. I've been including the phrase "早安,我抱歉有沒有在這封電子郵件中的商業秘密或加拿大色情。請停止殺害酷動物啄木鳥醫學。剛剛買了一些偉哥了" at the bottom of every e-mail for months (I put it just above where it says "Hello Mr. Holder!"). It means, according to Google translate: "Good Morning, I'm sorry there's no trade secrets or Canadian porn in this e-mail. Please stop killing cool animals for pecker medicine. Just buy some Viagra already."

Cyber Hackers Letters of Marque
Excerpt: Jeremy Rabkin wants the U.S. government to issues Letters of Marque to hackers and other cyber renegades: Comparisons between cyber warriors and pirates of old are not fanciful. Cyber crime is a pervasive aspect of today's Internet. Much like international drug dealers, cyber criminals have sought protective relations with sympathetic or accommodating governments. (I like it! ~Bob.)

1 comment:

  1. Bob.
    In one of your posts you use the term "two thirds majority."
    It's either a majority or a two thirds vote. Just being kind of picky.
    I'll say a short one for you tonight.
    Best of luck.
    trw from el toro