Friday, October 30, 2009

Political Digest for October 30, 2009

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Leader of Detroit mosque killed, 11 charged in FBI raids
Excerpt: The leader of a Detroit mosque was shot and killed Wednesday during a series of FBI raids that resulted in charges against 11 and the death of an FBI dog. At least six of those charged were in federal custody late Wednesday afternoon. The case involves the Joint Terrorism Task Force and prosecutors from the national security unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office. A complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit names Luqman Ameen Abullah, imam of the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit, as "a highly placed leader of a nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group." He was killed in the raid, according to a joint statement by federal officials. More than three people were arrested on charges including conspiracy to commit federal crimes, receipt of stolen goods, providing firearms to felons and changing vehicle identification numbers, said Special Agent Sandra Berchtold, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Detroit. Berchtold also confirmed that an FBI dog was shot and killed in one of the raids. (I’m sorry about the dog.)

Obama seeks study on local leaders for troop decision
The micro-managing community organizer takes charge! Excerpt: President Obama has asked senior officials for a province-by-province analysis of Afghanistan to determine which regions are being managed effectively by local leaders and which require international help, information that his advisers say will guide his decision on how many additional U.S. troops to send to the battle.

5 U.N. staffers killed in Kabul
Adherents of the Religion of Peace kill aid workers there to help people.

Two New York men charged with trying to run weapons to Hizballah
Didn’t get the Islam-is-a-Religion-of-Peace memo.

Owner of halal meatpacking plant in Chicago plotted to kill Danish Motoonist
Didn’t get the Islam-is-a-Religion-of-Peace memo.

Schoolhouse Shariah
Digging our own graves. Excerpt: California's educrats have put out new rules for teaching Islamic studies to seventh-graders in public schools, and they are as biased as ever. They'll also likely spread eastward. The lesson guidelines adopted by the bellwether state whitewash the violence and oppression of women codified in Islamic law, or Shariah. And they're loaded with revisionist history about the faith. For example, the suggested framework glorifies Shariah as a liberal reform movement that "rejected" the mistreatment of women that existed in Arabia before Muhammad and his successors conquered the region, according to Accuracy in Academia. The guidelines claim that Islamic law established for the first time that men and women were entitled to equal "respect." Not so, says Islamic scholar and author Nonie Darwish, who grew up Muslim in Egypt. "I am shocked that that is what they teach," she said. "Women had more rights in Arabia before Shariah." In fact, "wife beating is allowed under Shariah" today, she added. "It allows a woman seen without a headdress to be flogged, punishes rape victims, and calls for beheading for adultery."

House health-care reform bill includes public option
Excerpt: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled a health-care reform bill Thursday that includes a government insurance option and a historic expansion of Medicaid, although sticking points involving abortion and immigration remain unresolved. The bill includes a version of the "public option" preferred by moderates and raises Medicaid eligibility levels to 150 percent of the federal poverty level for all adults, a steeper increase than in earlier drafts. "Today we are about to deliver on the promise of making affordable, quality health care available for all Americans," Pelosi said, describing a bill that she said would insure 36 million more Americans. ". . . We are putting forth a bill that reflects our best values and addresses our greatest challenges."

Public option blinders?
Excerpt: Republicans' decision to make the public option the focus of their efforts to defeat President Obama's health care plan may look like sound political strategy from afar but it runs the risk of distracting voters from arguments against the proposal based on more GOP-friendly issues like taxes and spending. "We couldn't be in a better place on health care than fighting it out over the public option," said a Democratic strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of a desire to keep his name out of public strategy discussions. A slew of recent national polling affirms the idea that picking a fight on the public option may not give Republicans their best chance of success in the debate over health care.

Opt out?
Excerpt: President Barack Obama and his congressional allies want to create yet another government-run health insurance program (call it Fannie Med) to cover yet another segment of the American public (the non-elderly non-poor). The whole idea that Fannie Med would be an “option” is a ruse. Like the three “public options” we’ve already got – Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – Fannie Med would drag down the quality of care for publicly and privately insured patients alike. Yet despite offering an inferior product, Fannie Med would still drive private insurers out of business because it would exploit implicit and explicit government subsidies. Pretty soon, Fannie Med will be the only game in town – just ask its architect, Jacob Hacker.

Poll of women on healthcare
Excerpt: Fifty-one percent of women are unsatisfied and 42% are satisfied with what they have read, seen, or heard about the proposals or legislation to change the way healthcare is covered and delivered here in the United States. Fifty-four percent would not personally trade in their coverage for a public plan; 38% would. Fifty-six percent disagree and 36% agree that “women like me would be best served by a government run healthcare plan.” Fifty-seven percent disagree and 34% agree that “a federally run” healthcare program is what is best for my family and me.”

The Unhealthy 'Public Option'
Excerpt: If Medicare were a bank, federal regulators would be closing its doors, selling its operations and sacking its managers. Thanks to soaring costs, the program is fast running out of money -- even though it pays such low fees that many doctors refuse to take Medicare patients. Meanwhile, Medicare fraud costs taxpayers some $60 billion a year, according to a report by CBS's "60 Minutes," making it among the most profitable fields for felons. That's our experience with government-run health insurance for the elderly. So what do congressional Democrats propose to do? Offer government-run health insurance to everyone else. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid capitulated to his party's more liberal elements when he said he will insist that health care legislation include a "public option" -- a government insurance plan -- to bring "meaningful reform to our broken system." But deploying a version of Medicare to repair the status quo is like using a brick to improve a window. President Obama says it would help consumers by giving private insurers some real competition. But the typical state has 27 companies competing in the small-group health insurance market. If there were insufficient competition, the health insurance sector wouldn't rank 86th among American industries in profitability. Health care plans average profits of just 3.3 percent. In wireless communications, a vigorously contested market, profits are 11 percent. Does Obama think we need a government cell-phone company to compete with Verizon and AT&T? The proponents also believe that, like Medicare, a new government plan could be run far more efficiently than private firms. Don't make me laugh. Medicare, keep in mind, is going broke. And its alleged efficiencies are illusory or nontransferable. Health economists Regina Herzlinger of Harvard and Robert Book of the Heritage Foundation note that on a per-person basis, Medicare has higher administrative costs than private firms. They look smaller only because the average Medicare patient uses more services than the average private insurance patient. "Expressing them as a percentage makes Medicare's administrative costs appear lower because they are spread over a larger base of health care costs," write Book and Herzlinger.

Comprehensive List of Taxes In House Democrat Health Bill
Brace yourself, little people who thought the rich were going to pay for everything.

Stimulus Jobs In US Overstated By 1,000s
AP starting to act like a news organization. Yesterday they exposed the lie about insurance company profits. Today the lie about jobs. Excerpt: WASHINGTON (AP) ― An early progress report on President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports. The U.S government's first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money. But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs, or one in six, according to an Associated Press review of a sample of stimulus contracts.

The Next Financial Crisis
We are not out of the woods.

Lessons of two campaigns
Excerpt: Memo to Democrats: You will be defined by President Obama whether you like it or not, so you might as well embrace him for the benefits he can bring you. Memo to Republicans: Talk a right-wing game in your ideological magazines and at your tea parties if that makes you happy. But to win elections, your candidates had better look like middle-of-the-road problem-solvers. Those are the two outstanding lessons from the campaigns for Tuesday's governors' races in New Jersey and Virginia. Both parties would be smart to apply them in 2010.

First-Time Fraudsters
A tax credit so silly even a four-year-old can exploit it.
From the folks who want to run health care. Excerpt: It's hard not to laugh when viewing the results of the federal first-time home-buyer tax credit. The credit, worth up to $8,000 for the purchase of a home, has only been available since April of last year. Yet news of the latest taxpayer-funded mortgage scam has traveled fast. The Treasury's inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, recently told Congress that at least 19,000 filers hadn't purchased a home when they claimed the credit. For another 74,000 filers, claiming a total of $500 million in credits, evidence suggests that they weren't first-time buyers. Among those claiming bogus credits, at least some of them were definitely first-timers. The credit has already been claimed by 500 people under the age of 18, including a four-year-old. This pre-K housing whiz likely bought because mom and dad make too much to qualify for the full credit, which starts to phase out at $150,000 of income for couples, $75,000 for singles. As a "refundable" tax credit, it guarantees the claimants will get cash back even if they paid no taxes. A lack of documentation requirements also makes this program a slow pitch in the middle of the strike zone for scammers. The Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department are pursuing more than 100 criminal investigations related to the credit, and the IRS is reportedly trying to audit almost everyone who claims it this year.

Arpaio for governor? New poll says he has the support
Excerpt: PHOENIX - Sheriff Joe Arpaio rarely keeps a low profile. Never afraid of attention or controversy and always outspoken, he leaves little unsaid. And that includes a race for governor. "There's an old saying in politics: Never say never," Arpaio said. "I know I would make an excellent governor." Arpaio has not officially announced his candidacy, and he never may. But in recent weeks, he's teased and hinted. It's not the first time. "Twice I've looked into it and had press conferences," Arpaio said.

Obama and the Old Hat People
Excerpt: If you're an elected Democrat anywhere to the right of Barney Frank, and trying to defend a competitive seat next November, you've got to be starting to sweat. You wake up in the morning and just like every other morning as far as the eye can see the only thing in the news is the president's health-care reform. It's starting to look like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are leading the Donner Party, the snowbound emigrants who bogged down in the Sierra Nevada winter in the 1840s and resorted to cannibalism to survive. The betting is that with raw political muscle and procedural magic, the Congressional Democrats will pass something, call it reform and hand Barack Obama a "victory." Maybe, but I think what we are seeing with this massive legislation is that the Democrats in Washington have a bigger problem: Their party is looking so yesterday. In a world defined by nearly 100,000 iPhone apps, a world of seemingly limitless, self-defined choice, the Democrats are pushing the biggest, fattest, one-size-fits all legislation since 1965. And they brag this will complete the dream Franklin D. Roosevelt had in 1939.

Mainstream Media Ignores Juicy ACORN Nuggets
The Leftstream Media hates Giles because at 20, she is what they used to be.

The Big Mac's Currency Lesson
Excerpt: McDonald's Icelandic franchisee noted, in explaining his decision to throw in the patty, that unlike his local competitors, McDonald's imports most of its raw ingredients, from beef to special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and, we assume, sesame seed buns. This reliance on imports has undercut McDonald's margins in the island nation, which saw the krona plummet by more than 80% after the financial panic took down the country's major banks. But the lesson here is not about the dangers of globalization or the virtues of buying local. Since Iceland's banks collapsed last fall, and its currency with them, the cost in local currency of all imports, and not just fast food, has soared. This has done nothing to "cushion" the blow to Iceland's economy from what amounted to an international run on its banks. What it has done is added a currency panic to a financial panic, and made Iceland's prospects bleaker than they otherwise might have been.

Obama & Google (a love story)
Excerpt: Nevertheless, Google's newfound access in Washington is striking for two reasons: Obama and his team pride themselves on maintaining a distance from corporations -- before taking office the President pledged to close the "revolving door" of industry executives who go on to regulate their former corporate peers. Google, meanwhile, likes to portray its Washington operation as a quasi-academic resource that's above the political fray. Politicians and their staffers "are sometimes taken aback by the fact that we don't always act the way that other companies act," says Bob Boorstin, a former Clinton White House speechwriter who works on freedom of expression issues in Google's Washington, D.C., office. "What we offer is technological expertise ... It's a company that's a think tank, or a think tank that's a company." Either Google is very naive about the way Washington works, or it thinks everyone else is. Yet neither Obama's anticorporate leanings nor Google's anti-"politics as usual" culture has stopped the two camps from collaborating closely. Schmidt sits on Obama's Council of Science and Technology Advisers. Google employees acted as advisers to the Obama transition team -- in one case Google executive Sonal Shah actually led a meeting, to the surprise of at least one attendee -- and a handful of ex-Googlers have joined the administration in various roles.

Obama and race relations: hope soars, then plunges
Maybe because his supporters include race baiters like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Detroit, R.I.P.
Excerpt: Detroit is a premier example of what happens when ordinary people depend on big units—big government, big business, big labor—for their sustenance, and when the leaders of those big units ignore the economic reality that you’ve got to produce things customers will value.

Group claims Congress hid medical data damaging to donors
Excerpt: A watchdog group has released a report that accuses Congress of helping medical research groups conceal information after key lawmakers received big campaign donations. According to The Sunlight Foundation, Congress in 2007 voted to keep results from clinical trials for unapproved medical devices out of eyes of the public. The provision was inserted into Food and Drug Administration Amendment Act after lobbyists for medical research firms argued that making the results public would reveal proprietary information and potentially hurt business. (So this is how Nancy “drains the swamp” as she promised.)

Obama’s Media Control Strategy
Excerpt: You may not have noticed that the Obama Administration, in addition to trying to seize control of the health care and energy sectors, is implementing a national “broadband plan” to redefine the media and transform America’s system of government. It’s designed, they say, to provide “open government and civic engagement.” But it looks increasingly like an excuse for the federal government to control the Internet and access to information and even tell us what is truth. Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute recently explained at a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “National Broadband Plan Workshop” that it is necessary to have “a common space with shared facts.” Armed with $7.2 billion of “stimulus” money, the federal government is going to provide this. It looks like various progressive groups are lining up at the public trough for their share of the loot. They have in mind what the George Soros-funded Free Press calls “an alternative media infrastructure.”


  1. I've linked to the "new taxes" article on my morning post, with attribution to you for providing it. Just wanted you to know.

    By the way, THANK YOU for bringing these digests so faithfully. I read you first, every morning.

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  3. Bob I just read your Feb post; I'm Tired'..It's making the rounds on the'net. I was prompted to send the following to many others:
    As a child I grew up in the depression '30s. I remember them well I remember World War II, and how the 'greatest generation' really did save the world from the evil despots of that time. I served in the Korean war, and was a very concerned citizen during the 30- year cold war and the grand end to that hastened by Margret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev. I witnessed and was part of the 'age of aquarius' during the '60's. The murders of JFK, RFK and MLK are still vivid. I debated the left and right about the Vietnam war. I contributed my skills for 35 years to a remarkable evolution of computer technology. I battled an inept government and greedy corporate parasites as a defending, and successful, paralegal during historic antitrust litigation. Since retiring, more than a few years ago, I spent almost every day studying the socio-economic-political landscape both foreign and domestic.

    Well, I'm more than just tired as Bob Hall is , but seriously dismayed at the demise of our culture, our curiously-elected leaders, the plain ignorance of our youngsters. Well, anyway, many just a few years younger than me. Younger generations who don't give a rat's rear about any generation but their own -not my generation or even following generations. Piling up debt for their children and grandchildren with cavalier and careless disregard. If it all fell on their shoulders, as it should, one would think they'd think twice.

    Bob, I suppose I'm tired too. Tired of listening to the mindless hubris of those who have endured little, and know less. To those whose life's greatest issues are imagined problems as global warming and the horrors of the free market, and the despicable history of the United States of America, all dictated to them by a an equally self-serving and complicit media. And a political ruling class that encourages paganism.

    Bob, thanks for your blog. It encouraged me to write here. I'm tired too, but not done. To paraphrase Charlton Heston...not done until they pry this keyboard 'from my cold dead hands'.

    Allan Heather