Saturday, October 31, 2009

Political Digest October 31, 2009

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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.

In White House Vs. Fox News War Of Words, Who Gets Your Vote?
NPR poll. These things aren’t scientific, but keep everyone’s blood flowing. Just not to their brains.

Gullible eager-beaver planet savers
Excerpt: Hold that thought: “They deal with every aspect of our life.” Did you know every aspect of your life was being negotiated at Copenhagen? But in a good way! So no need to worry. After all, we all care about the environment, don’t we? So we ought to do something about it, right? And, since “the environment” isn’t just in your town or county but spreads across the entire planet, we can only really do something at the planetary level. But what to do? According to paragraph 38 on page 18 of the latest negotiating text, the convention will set up a “government” to manage the “new funds” and the “related facilitative processes.” Tim Flannery’s disarmingly honest characterization passed almost without notice, reported as far as I can tell only by Brian Lilley of CFRB Toronto and CJAD Montreal. But professor Flannery has it right. Government transport policy is about transport, and government education policy is about education, but environmental policy is about everything, because everything’s part of “the environment”: your town, your county, your planet—and you. “We are the environment. There is no distinction,” declared another renowned expert, David Suzuki, last year. And just as the government now monitors air and water quality so it’s increasingly happy to regulate your quality.

The Nationalization of Your Children
Excerpt: I keep getting e-mails saying, "People will reach a tipping point and they'll no longer put up with this stuff." I doubt it. Right now the way to bet is that once free societies will retreat incrementally, one trivial step after another, into a totalitarian hell.

Omar’s Girls
Great 2001 column from Mark Steyn, relevant again: Unfortunately, this thesis, while it may get you a Federal grant from Hedy Fry, took a bit of a knock after the fall of Kabul, when to the surprise of the Worldwide Sisterhood the Afghan sisters began emerging from their hoods. Momentarily stunned, the feminists nimbly discovered a whole new set of grievances. Oh, sure, Bush is making a big deal about women’s rights in Afghanistan now, but where was he five years ago when the Taliban first showed up? Well, five years ago, he was in Austin, Texas, and the guy with his feet under the desk in the White House never did a thing - though, if ever there was a fellow with a vested interest in ensuring that impenetrable facial hoods for ladies never caught on, it was surely Mr. Clinton.

Obama: A Man Apart
Excerpt: At the risk of drawing literary comparisons, I am persuaded based on his performance that President Obama is a man apart. He seems to equate power with arrogance; pride with willfulness and exceptionalism with dominance. As a consequence, he has changed foreign policy perceptions. The America he leads is a nation like any other -- no more, no less. In fact, as a Nobel laureate, he is considered by the Europeans as a man of the world, not merely a citizen of the United States. When asked if the United States is exceptional, President Obama said America is exceptional and England is exceptional and Greece is exceptional. That the United States is sui generis didn’t cross his mind. How could it? He is pledged to a scenario in which America opts out of its traditional role as peace keeper, the balance wheel in maintaining international equilibrium. The war against terrorists is over along with the nation’s hegemonic role. Unfortunately the war fatigue President Obama embodies is not embraced by our global enemies who see this shift in his policy attitude as a sign of weakness and retreat. I believe President Obama actually thinks that unilateral concessions to our real and putative enemies will result in reciprocal responses. But as his bizarre overtures to the Olympic Committee demonstrated, gestures directed at multilateralism and celebrity status do not result in favorable results. Real power as opposed to soft power still has meaning on the world stage.

Dozens in Congress under ethics inquiry
Interesting reading. Excerpt: House ethics investigators have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling, according to a confidential House ethics committee report prepared in July. The report appears to have been inadvertently placed on a publicly accessible computer network, and it was provided to The Washington Post by a source not connected to the congressional investigations. The committee said Thursday night that the document was released by a low-level staffer.

Seven on defense panel scrutinized
Nancy Pelosi came to power in the 2006 election promising to end the “Republican Culture of Corruption” and to “Drain the Swamp.” How’s that working out, Nance? As I’ve said many times, neither party has a monopoly on virtue or vice. And, sadly, BOTH parties protect their bums. Excerpt: Nearly half the members of a powerful House subcommittee in control of Pentagon spending are under scrutiny by ethics investigators in Congress, who have trained their lens on the relationships between seven panel members and an influential lobbying firm founded by a former Capitol Hill aide. The investigations by two separate ethics offices include an examination of the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), as well as others who helped steer federal funds to clients of the PMA Group. The lawmakers received campaign contributions from the firm and its clients. A document obtained by The Washington Post shows that the subcommittee members under scrutiny also include Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) , C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).

VIP Democratic donors have big federal interests
Excerpt: When UBS Americas CEO Robert Wolf stepped out on the golf links at Martha's Vineyard this past summer as part of President Obama's foursome, his firm had plenty to celebrate. A few days earlier, the Swiss parent of his company had resolved a long-running dispute with the IRS over undeclared offshore accounts. The sticky legal case was one of several matters involving the financial giant where huge sums of money could hinge on the action taken by the federal government. But as they strolled the fairways, the topic never came up. Mr. Wolf, like many of the influential Americans who raised more than $500,000 to help get Mr. Obama elected in 2008, has adamantly maintained that he has never let the interests of his company creep into his relationship with the president. (Ain’t it wonderful how President Wobbly has changed they way they do business in Washington, just as he promised?)

Top Obama fundraisers get posts
Excerpt: WASHINGTON — More than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama's campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found. Overall, about 600 individuals and couples raised money from their friends, family members and business associates to help fund Obama's presidential campaign. USA TODAY's analysis found that 54 have been named to government positions, ranging from Cabinet and White House posts to advisory roles, such as serving on the economic recovery board charged with helping guide the country out of recession. Nearly a year after he was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington, Obama also has taken a cue from his predecessors and appointed fundraisers to coveted ambassadorships, drawing protests from groups representing career diplomats. A separate analysis by the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats' union, found that more than half of the ambassadors named by Obama so far are political appointees, said Susan Johnson, president of the association. An appointment is considered political if it does not go to a career diplomat in the State Department.

Dismantling America: Part II by Dr. Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: The memory of that long-ago episode has come back more than once while observing both the actions of the Obama administration and the fierce reactions of its supporters to any questioning or criticism. Almost never do these reactions include factual or logical arguments against the administration's critics. Instead, there is indignation, accusations of bad faith and even charges of racism. Here too, it seems as if so many people have invested so much hope and trust in Barack Obama that it is intolerable that anyone should come along and stir up any doubts that could threaten their house of cards…. Internationally, Barack Obama has made every mistake that was made by the Western democracies in the 1930s, mistakes that put Hitler in a position to start World War II-- and come dangerously close to winning it. At the heart of those mistakes was trying to mollify your enemies by throwing your friends to the wolves. The Obama administration has already done that by reneging on this country's commitment to put a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe and by its lackadaisical foot-dragging on doing anything serious to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. That means, for all practical purposes, throwing Israel to the wolves as well. Countries around the world that have to look out for their own national survival, above all, are not going to ignore how much Obama has downgraded the reliability of America's commitments.

A Leadership Vacuum
Excerpt: In the Summer and Fall of 2008 we were reliably reminded by all and sundry, and particularly by Candidate Obama, that the conflict in Iraq was an illegal and immoral war, drawing American resources from the "war of necessity" in Afghanistan. Indeed, if memory serves, Candidate Obama proudly proclaimed that he had voted against the war in Iraq, although he had not been in the US Senate at the time. It is now clear that the war in Afghanistan was a "necessity" only to the extent that Candidate Obama needed a stick with which to beat the outgoing Bush administration. Had Afghanistan been a genuine priority for Team Obama, surely they would have developed a number of possible policies over the course of the campaign.

Where the girls are not
Excerpt: These are vexed times. The country is at war on two fronts. Rogue states are edging toward acquiring strategic nuclear weaponry. We have been through a very serious recession from which we may not emerge into the bright morn of economic health for years. The dollar is frail. The future of national health care, finance and corporate governance is in doubt. Yet that is not all. Over at the New York Times an issue that continues to torment the bien pensants is.... Well, let me quote the first sentence of a front-page tocsin that began the controversy on Sunday: "Does the White House feel like a frat house?" The proximate cause for this troubling query was that President Obama had hosted "a high-level basketball game with no female players." Yet there was more. Apparently, there are anonymous women on the White House staff who feel uncomfortable in the presence of the president and his male associates even when they are fully dressed and not playing basketball. (Women uncomfortable around a black jock. Say, wouldn’t that be racism?)

In Russia, an intensifying insurgency
Excerpt: Moscow declared an end to military operations in Chechnya in April, a decade after then-President Vladimir Putin sent troops into the breakaway republic. But violence has surged in the mountains of Russia's southwest frontier since then, with the assassination of several officials, explosions and shootouts occurring almost daily, and suicide bombings making a comeback after a long lull. On Sunday, a popular Ingush opposition leader was fatally shot, months after the slaying of Chechnya's most prominent human rights activist. The insurgency is a key reason Russia has been reluctant to support sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program; diplomats say the Kremlin is worried Tehran might retaliate by setting aside sectarian differences and backing the rebels in Muslim solidarity. Washington, meanwhile, is concerned that the area is becoming a recruiting ground for militias in Pakistan and Afghanistan. At least 519 people were killed in rebel attacks and clashes with government forces from May to September, up from 299 during the same period last year, according to a study by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. The fighting is concentrated in the largely Muslim eastern part of the North Caucasus, an area the size of Oregon with 14 million people from as many as 50 ethnic groups.

John Kerry to the Rescue
Excerpt: Kerry made his career as an outspoken advocate for the Nuclear Freeze of the 1980s. We now know that the Freeze movement was largely financed by the Kremlin. But even back then, American advocates of the Nuclear Freeze had the satisfaction of knowing they wanted the U.S. to back down in the face of Soviet threats while Britain's Margaret Thatcher, West Germany's Helmut Kohl, and even France's Francois Mitterrand wanted us to stand firm. With a record of being wrong on virtually every issue involving American interests and national security, there is only one question left about the gaunt Massachusetts senator: How has John Kerry managed to avoid winning a Nobel Peace Prize?

The Byzantine Doctrine
Long, but worth reading discussion of strategy. What the United States could learn from the military and foreign policy of the Byzantine Empire.

What NY-23 means
This would be a shock. Excerpt: Two things have become abundantly clear about the special election in New York's 23rd district over the past week. The first is that Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman could win the special election next Tuesday. The second is that neither major party knows what to think about the Hoffman candidacy and both are trying to adjust their spin to accommodate what a victory by the Conservative Party candidate would say about the national political field…. So, while Republicans will cast a Hoffman win as a victory for them (it shows an energized GOP base) and Democrats will tout it as victory for their side (it shows a deeply divided Republican party), the truth is that a Hoffman win should send shivers up the spine of anyone who carries "Representative", "Senator" or "Governor" before their name.

The WellPoint Revelation
My dad used to tell an old joke, with the punch line, “Brace yourself Harry—here comes the bull.” Excerpt: In all of the 14 states WellPoint scrutinized, ObamaCare would drive up premiums for the small businesses and individuals who are most of WellPoint's customers. (Other big insurers, like Aetna, focus on the market among large businesses.) Young and healthy consumers will see the largest increases—their premiums would more than triple in some states—though average middle-class buyers will pay more too.

CBO Underestimates Benefits of Malpractice Reform
Excerpt: Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said medical-liability reforms could save about $11 billion annually. This assessment is a gross underestimate of the potential benefits of reform and was intended to give cover to congressional Democrats who say malpractice-liability costs are trifling. But a full accounting shows the benefits would be a hefty $242 billion a year, more than 10 percent of America's health expenditures. Last year alone, damage awards for medical-malpractice claims reached $5.9 billion. Adding in legal costs, underwriting costs, and administrative expenses, total med-mal tort costs were nearly three times higher — $16 billion. From 1986 through 2002, the average insurance payment for a malpractice claim more than tripled to $320,000. The average jury award for medical liability was $637,134 in 2006. Getting sued is now part of the job description for physicians. Each year, up to 25 percent of them face lawsuits. Doctors are found innocent in 90 percent of cases, but they lose even then — average defense costs per claim approach $100,000. Fear of lawsuits causes most doctors to practice "defensive medicine," meaning they order unnecessary tests, referrals, and procedures to protect themselves against allegations of medical negligence.

Voting Present on Illegal Immigration
Excerpt: Already, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has derided federal sweeps of illegal aliens as "un-American." And recently the Obama administration stripped the federal authority of Arizona's controversial Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, to make immigration arrests. Yet expect the public to oppose any so-called comprehensive immigration reform even more vehemently than it did George Bush's 2007 doomed proposals. Why? Conditions on the ground have changed drastically in the last two years. First, the nation's unemployment is now over 9 percent. It may be peak beyond 10 percent. In many western states, such as California, the jobless rate may climb even higher. The old notion that "illegal immigrants pick the lettuce that Americans refuse to" is an ossified stereotype. In fact, today less than one out of 20 illegal aliens currently do farm labor. Most are engaged in construction or the service industry, or are homemakers with childcare responsibilities. While plenty of unemployed American citizens may still not yet wish to pick oranges, the jobless might consider taking jobs like hammering nails or working in restaurants. Second, many states are broke. Taxes are rising. The public is questioning all sorts of government entitlement expenditures. In California, the latest budget crisis saw a $26 billion shortfall -- at a time when some studies put the state's net health, housing, education and criminal justice costs for some 3 million illegal aliens at over $10 billion a year. (Look for the Obama administration to reclassify inner city drug dealers as “Undocumented Pharmacists.”)

Homeland Security Department Gags Local Law Enforcement to Protect 'Privacy' of Illegal Aliens
Excerpt: Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano has said she will concentrate on 'criminal aliens' when enforcing federal immigration law. (If they are here illegally, doesn’t that make them all criminals? What part of “illegal” doesn’t she understand?)

The three envelopes
Excerpt: In the Barack Obama version, there are 50 or so such blame-Bush free passes before the gig is up. By my calculation, Obama has already burned through a good 49. Is there anything he hasn't blamed George W. Bush for? The economy, global warming, the credit crisis, Middle East stalemate, the deficit, anti-Americanism abroad -- everything but swine flu. It's as if Obama's presidency hasn't really started. He's still taking inventory of the Bush years. Just this Monday, he referred to "long years of drift" in Afghanistan in order to, I suppose, explain away his own, well, yearlong drift on Afghanistan.

Income Redistribution: Public Option Phones
Bill Clinton may have declared in 1996, "The era of big government is over," but Obama must have missed the message. Never in American history has the era of big government encroached on so many areas of our lives -- and with more on the docket. We can now add another one to the list: Safelink Wireless, a "government supported program that provides a free cell phone and airtime each month for income-eligible customers," all paid for with "Obama money" -- and you know where that comes from. SafeLink is an extension of or adjunct to the FCC program known as "Lifeline and Link-up." In a nutshell, "poor" people, often already on the dole with other state and federal welfare programs, can apply to receive a free cell phone and 70 minutes of airtime per month from TracFone Wireless, Inc. The Lifeline program pays one-half (up to $30) of installation costs for wired telephone service at a primary residence and provides up to a $10 per month discount for basic monthly service. Oh well, at least these recipients are required to pay some of the costs from their bi-monthly "county" checks. The program uses funds from those little universal service fund (USF) charges that show up on our phone bills. Of course, Lifeline program participants are exempt from USF charges on their bills. Once again, we're left scratching our heads and searching for the Article and Section of the Constitution under which free phones can be found. The Patriot Post (

Knoxville Murder Update: Another Guilty Verdict
Just as the ink was drying from Barack Obama's signature on so-called "hate crimes" legislation, a jury found Lemaricus Davidson guilty of premeditated murder, felony murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape and theft in the 2007 deaths of University of Tennessee student Channon Christian and her boyfriend Christopher Newsom. Davidson, who is black, was the ringleader of four blacks who gruesomely murdered the white couple. In August, Davidson's brother Letalvis Cobbins was convicted of murder and other counts and was sentenced to life in prison without parole, while George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman await trial. Davidson faces the death penalty. While the Obama administration and its Leftist ilk have repeatedly invoked the names of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd of late, it's no surprise that they've yet to utter a single syllable about the victims of this particular hate crime. The Patriot Post (

1 comment:

  1. Re Safelink

    Is this really a bad thing?

    Not at all. This is actually a very good example of a public-private initiative.

    The money has been collected by 25+ years and was applied to landlines. Under the Bush Administration, the program began to include cheapo, low-end cell phones (the ones that sell for under $10 at gas stations and discount stores).

    TracFone provides the phones and minutes, and the recipients can buy more as needed.

    I could see being upset if they gave away cars, iPhones or cable TV, but Tracfones are hardly luxury items and it's not worth getting worked up about, truly.