Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Political Digest October 7 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.

A Letter from a Child –Dr. Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Parents send their children to school to acquire the knowledge that has come down to us as a legacy of our culture-- whether it is mathematics, science, or whatever-- so that those children can grow up and go out into the world equipped to face life's challenges. Too many "educators" see teaching not as a responsibility to the students but as an opportunity for themselves-- whether to indoctrinate a captive audience with the teacher's ideology, manipulate them in social experiments or just do fun things that make teaching easier, whether or not it really educates the child. You can, of course, call anything that happens in a classroom "education"-- but that does not make it education, except in the eyes of those who cannot think beyond words. Unfortunately, the dumbed-down education of previous generations means that many parents today see nothing wrong with their children being manipulated in school, instead of being educated.

Poll on Obama and the economy
As they say in Chicago, vote early and often.

Does President Obama have a good option in Afghanistan?
Excerpt: In a week that will be dominated by White House deliberations over the way forward in the war effort, the debates both inside and outside the administration seem centered on deciding which is the least bad strategy: Add thousands more troops, and become more bogged down in a country with an unreliable government and an increasingly hostile population. Leave altogether, and let the Taliban resume control and rebuild a base for international terrorism. Choose a middle ground, and anger both sides with no endgame in sight.

Substitute 'Obama' for 'Bush' and 'Afghanistan' for 'Iraq' . . .
The Democrats nurtured these anti-American kooks to tear down Bush, now they have to live with them. Excerpt: But the remarkable thing about this familiar antiwar demonstration is that it occurred Monday, and the target was not George W. Bush but the White House's current occupant. Protesters' signs carried Obama-specific barbs: "Change? What Change?" "The Audacity of War Crimes." "Yes We Can: U.S. Out of Afghanistan." Several of the demonstrators had T-shirts showing a missile labeled "Obomba" and the question "Is it really OK if Obama does it?" … The policies that earned Obama such a salute were printed on the back of the "Obomba" T-shirts, sold by the group World Can't Wait: "Indefinite Detention." "CIA Rendition." "Escalation of War in Afghanistan." "Increase in Government Spying." "Unmanned Drones Bombing Pakistan." And those shirts didn't mention Obama's latest bomb dropped on civil libertarians: reversing his support for a law to protect anonymous sources who expose wrongdoing.

For troops, Afghanistan 'like Vietnam without napalm'
From a Marine buddy: This is a déjà vu that I don't think any of us ever wanted to see come around again. And now the ROE are worse than they were in Nam. And Obama is not happy with the general telling him that for it to have any chance to work means a lot more troops. I guess we're back to where the military is supposed to tell the politicians what they want to hear, rather than what's real. That didn't work out well under Johnson and McNamara, so you'd have hoped that would be one of the real lessons of Viet Nam. But nobody in power today seems to recall any of that. I can't wait to see what rationalization the politicos come up with this time for us to bug out and let it all go to hell. –Del

Obama begins campaign against his General
Excerpt: If they had gone to the New York Times, the nation would see it as just another example of the Gray Lady’s unrepentant sixties bra burning hysteria against war. Instead, the Obama administration has gone to the Washington Post to begin the process of getting rid of their troublesome General who dares to think winning in Afghanistan is possible

Vote on Key Health Bill Delayed for Cost Report
Excerpt: The panel's vote is expected to be close, and passage could hinge on a handful of senators who have indicated that the CBO's report may sway them. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) already has begun informal discussions with senators and White House officials, a spokesman said, about merging the Finance Committee's bill with another, passed by a different Senate committee in July. Reid's talks are intended to establish areas of broad policy agreement so that official negotiations can focus on thornier issues, Reid spokesman Jim Manley said.

Morning Fix: Landscape Sparks Republicans Recruiting
Excerpt: The decline in President Obama's poll numbers -- and those of his party -- over the first eight months of his administration has led to a bumper crop of Republican recruits in the House as GOP candidates who sat on the sidelines for the last two election cycles are now leaping at the opportunity to run. The latest example of this environmental recruiting is in Nevada's 3rd district where former state senator Joe Heck (R) will announce today that he is abandoning his gubernatorial bid to pursue a race against freshman Rep. Dina Titus (D) in 2010.

The War on Specialists
Excerpt: In President Obama's Washington, medical specialists are slightly more popular than the H1N1 virus. Compared to bread-and-butter primary care doctors, specialists cost more to train and make more use of expensive procedures and technology—and therefore cost the government more money. Even so, the quiet war Democrats are waging on specialists is astonishing. From Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus's health-care bill to changes the Administration is pushing in Medicare, Democrats are systematically attacking specific medical fields like cardiology and oncology. With almost no scrutiny, they're trying to engineer a "cheaper" system so that government can afford to buy health care for all—even if the price is fewer and less innovative ways of extending and improving lives. Take a provision in the Baucus bill that would punish any physician whose "resource use" is considered too high. Beginning in 2015, Medicare would rank doctors against their peers based on how much they cost the program—and then automatically cut all payments by 5% to anyone who falls into the 90th percentile or above. In practice, this rule will only apply to specialists. (Simple economics. If you reward trial lawyers by protecting big law suits, and punish doctors, you will get more layers and fewer doctors. Is that good for health care? Or just good for Democrats who collect contributions from trial lawyers?)

John Kerry: If you enjoyed this year’s recession, just wait for Cap and Trade
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced draft legislation of a cap and trade bill with slightly more stringent near-term carbon reduction targets and Kerry’s message was simple: The recession worked so well to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, let’s keep it going. Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed concerns about the target but Kerry argued since the recession gave us a head start on greenhouse gas reduction, we can kill the economy some more. “Let me emphasize something very strongly as we begin this discussion. The United States has already this year alone achieved a 6 percent reduction in emissions simply because of the downturn in the economy, so we are effectively saying we need to go another 14 percent.” In other words, 10 percent unemployment is the new norm. It took a solid year for the United States to reach 10 percent unemployment through the financial meltdown and the housing crisis, let’s keep it there, or make it worse, with cap and trade. Why not be even more aggressive? If the trade off is a 6 percent reduction in emissions for a 3.5 percent reduction in unemployment in one year alone, we could get to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide by October 2011 and push the unemployment rate to 18 percent. Look on the bright side; we’d still be below Spain’s 19.3 percent.

Rangel rakes in cash from island rum scrum
Excerpt: The outcome of a legislative tussle over rum taxes between Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remains in doubt, but there is already one clear winner -- the House's top tax writer, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat who is pocketing campaign cash from both territories. At issue are competing bills that could make or break a deal that lured rum producer Captain Morgan from its longtime home in Puerto Rico to a new facility in the Virgin Islands with the promise of billions of dollars in subsidies to the liquor company paid out of U.S. rum taxes. Puerto Rico wants to drastically limit the amount of U.S. rum tax money the islands can give directly to the liquor industry, while the Virgin Islands wants to make permanent the rum-tax rebates to the territories, a change that would bolster its 30-year agreement to subsidize the production of Captain Morgan.

Soaking the Rich
Excerpt: The realization that tax revenues cannot hinge on a slim tax base has begun to seep into the public policy debate. States are particularly vulnerable because while high-income residents may not wish to leave their country they will move their family and business between states. California has already lost significant numbers of high earners to Nevada where there is no income tax. The reaction of the California Legislature has been to continually raise tax rates, thus encouraging additional residents to depart. Two years ago in Maryland, they raised taxes on the highest earners and a third of them have relocated since that time.

Muslim honour killing book cancelled over safety fears
Fear can kill Freedom of speech—it doesn’t have to be from a government. Excerpt: Islamisation refers to small but significant erosions of our freedom, bit by bit, demand by demand, concession by concession. The initial victims are Muslims themselves: for many Muslim women and girls living in Britain, especially those 20,000 said to be at risk from genital mutilation or the smaller number threatened with honour killings or with being murdered for apostasy, Islamisation is already a reality. For the rest of us it is less immediate and less noticeable, but a little bit of our freedom dies every time someone is cowed into silence.

Pakistan: UN office attack is 'warning' about upcoming military operation
Excerpt: Islamabad, 5 October (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - At least four people died and five others were injured on Monday after a suicide attacker blew up his explosives at the offices of the United Nations World Food Programme in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Those killed in the blast include two Pakistani women identified as Farzana Barkat, an office assistant and Gulrukh Tahir, a receptionist as well as Boton Ahmed Ali, an Iraqi national and information and communication technology officer. Pakistani national Abid Rehman, a senior finance assistance was also killed in the blast. All are WFP staff members. (Tolerant Islam—they kill you for feeding them!)

Billions of U.S. aid to Pakistan diverted, India concerned
Excerpt: Only a fraction of the $6.6 billion in U.S. aid sent to Pakistan between 2002 and 2008, meant for the war on terror, has actually reached Pakistan's military, and it has India worried about how the money may have been spent. (Gee, you don’t think?...Nah, give them more!)

An open letter to Michael Moore
Excerpt: I write in response to your recent comments to the effect that "Capitalism is legalized greed." I congratulate you on an insight we would expect from any slightly below-average third grader. By fifth grade, I would expect a more sophisticated insight, such as "Capitalism is legalized ambition." The difference might escape you. Ambition is the drive to better one's self. Greed is an unconstrained quest for wealth, with little or no regard for the means or consequences of acquisition. While greed itself is not illegal, many of the behaviors is produces are - theft, fraud, corruption, etc. Selling snake oil under the guise of documentary films is not currently illegal, but perhaps it should be

Claim: ACORN theft was five times previously thought
Excerpt: ACORN was embroiled in scandal last year when it was revealed that Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, had embezzled nearly $1 million from an ACORN affiliate years earlier. According to news reports, a handful of ACORN officials covered up the embezzlement, keeping the information even from some of the group's directors, in order to prevent an episode embarrassing to the group's left-wing mission. But Louisiana's Attorney General is now alleging a theft of ACORN funds five times as great. A new subpoena, granted on Friday by Louisiana's 19th Judicial District, asserts that ACORN insiders have known for nearly a year that $5 million was embezzled, based on their own internal investigation. (Your tax dollars at work.)

Leftism Destroys African American Communities
Excerpt: Yesterday on Glenn Beck’s show on Fox News, Fox Business Network analyst Charles Payne talked about the culture of victimization and hopelessness prevalent in African American communities today and the role leftism played in shaping it. Payne commented on the tragic death of Chicago honor student Derrion Albert who was beaten to death in Chicago earlier this week. Derrion was a remarkable kid: he may have grown up in a poor household and neighborhood but he was determined to do well at school, worked hard, and took care of his grandmother after she was diagnosed with cancer. His most precious possession was his computer, which his family was able to buy him after saving for it for two years. According to Payne, Derrion’s death wasn’t an accident but a sign of what’s wrong with African American culture today. “When I was a kid,” he said explaining he grew up as an army brat, living a wonderful life until he was an army brat no more and the family moved to a ‘black neighborhood’ after his mother and father divorced, “we got beaten up every day for speaking like white people, sounding white, wearing the wrong clothes.” (I would say it was the inner-city entitlement culture foisted on blacks, whites and Hispanics by leftists desperate to keep them poor and dependent on the government, not “African American” culture. I know lots of black folks who have fine cultural values, part of traditional American culture, which isn’t white and, in fact, was what blacks aspired to before the left discovered them. Read “Black Rednexcks and White Liberals,” a terrific essay by Dr. Thomas Sowell.)

From the Pen of David Horowitz
Excerpt: So powerful is the hold of the progressive faith, however, that Lerner too is finally unable to break its hold. This, despite the fact that it has been the basis for her lifelong commitment to a monstrous cause. “Like all true believers, I believed as I did because I needed to believe: in a utopian vision of the future, in the possibility of human perfectibility,…. And I still need that belief, even if the particular vision I had embraced has turned to ashes.”

Obama to lobby academy for Michael Moore Oscar

World War Three Anybody
Interestingly named blog. Excerpt: This is a dangerous situation. I'm not so sure that Israel could launch an effective attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, but it might try anyway, especially if a US-backed sanctions effort fails to coalesce quickly. I'm not sure Israel would seek permission from the US to do this, though the US would certainly be tasked with defending the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf. Iran might succeed in sinking more than a couple of US ships-of-the-line with sunburn missles and other toys, and this would lead to the bigger danger of oil supplies being choked off to the rest of the world. The US air response would be impressive, but possibly not effective against hardened targets. The leaders of Iran might exult even if the Iranian people were swept into a maelstrom. I imagine that what followed would be a very extravagant military frenzy amounting to World War Three, with European air forces and navies dragged in, with Hezbollah and Syria striking back at Israel, India and Pakistan possibly incinerating each other, and mayhem galore among the bystanders in Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. There could easily be internal mischief in the UK, France, and Germany from angry immigrant populations, and "sleepers" could work some overdue hoodoo in the USA. I don't know what Turkey would do, but it could be the biggest beneficiary of a bad regional meltdown, providing the only effective governance what remains in the region. China and Japan would probably just gape at the spectacle in wonder and nausea from the sidelines as they saw their energy supplies for years-to-come go up in flames.

"It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the more misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age . . .and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. . . . What they [those that withdrew from the Roman commonweal, including monastic communities] set themselves to achieve - often not recognizing fully what they were doing - was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. . . . This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers, they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are not waiting for Godot, but for another—and doubtless very different—St. Benedict." --Alasdair Macintyre - After Virtue

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