Saturday, November 21, 2009

Political Digest November 21, 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.

I’ll be traveling for Thanksgiving Week, with limited computer access, so posts will be rarer. (Sounds of cheering.)

Obama: Professed 9/11 mastermind will be executed,0,5013199.story
We’ll give him a fair trial, then we’ll hang him! Excerpt: The president, in a series of TV interviews during his trip to Asia, said those offended by the legal rights accorded Mohammed by virtue of his facing a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal won't find it "offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him." Obama, who is a lawyer, quickly added that he did not mean to suggest he was prejudging the outcome of Mohammed's trial. "I'm not going to be in that courtroom," he said. "That's the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury." (If the President of the United States announces that a person going on trial is going to be convicted and executed, won’t the defense be able to move for dismissal, saying that there is no way he can get a fair trial? That would happen in most cases. If BO had been president in WWII, I’d have had to do better in high school German.)

Obama choice for Treasury post becomes fifth nominee to run into tax problems,0,5989547.story
She wanted to pay her taxes on time, but knew it would kill her chances for a high position in the Obama Administration.

Is There Another Governor Like Sarah Palin?
Excerpt: The last 45 of my 66 years I've spent in a commercial fishing town in Alaska. I understand Alaska politics but never understood national politics well until this last year. Here's the breaking point: Neither side of the Palin controversy gets it. It's not about persona, style, rhetoric, it's about doing things. Even Palin supporters never mention the things that I'm about to mention here.

Circling Sharks Smell American Blood
Excerpt: On his recent trip to Asia, President Obama found China, Japan, and South Korea — like many nations these days — in no mood to hear more American lectures. Beijing is worried about owning so much American debt. Tokyo is tiring of an American military base in Okinawa, and wants to redefine its relationship with us. Seoul is starting to doubt American commitment to keep it safe from North Korea. Why all the sudden pushback to our charismatic president?

Angry Congress lashes out at Obama
Like the Democrats in the Congress in 2007-2008 blaming Bush for deficits, as if they didn’t hold the purse strings. Excerpt: Episodes in both houses of Congress exposed the raw nerves of lawmakers flooded with stories of unemployment and economic hardship back home. They also underscored the stiff headwinds that the administration faces as it pushes to enact sweeping changes to the financial regulatory system while also trying to create jobs for ordinary Americans. President Obama's allies in the Congressional Black Caucus, exasperated by the administration's handling of the economy, unexpectedly blocked one his top priorities, using a legislative maneuver to postpone the approval of financial reform legislation by a key House committee.

An opaque transparency
Does Joe have the stones to use subpoena powers? Excerpt: Conspicuously absent: anyone from the Obama administration. They declined a request for their testimony by Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate homeland security committee. It was a familiar trope of the Bush years: A congressional committee would try to investigate the administration's actions -- over intelligence failures in Iraq, for example -- but the administration would stiff the committee and then set up its own internal inquiry to preempt the lawmakers' probe and keep embarrassing details quiet. On Thursday, the Obama administration followed every element of the script, short of hiring Ari Fleischer….For those waiting for the new White House to make good on its vow to bring transparency to the executive branch, it was another disappointing brush with Obama opacity.

Arrests in Chicago drive home global nature of terrorism threat
Let’s not jump to conclusions. They were probably Presbyterians. Excerpt: Until 2006, he was Daood Gilani, but he told investigators he had changed his name to raise less suspicion when he traveled abroad. He lived anonymously in an apartment leased in the name of a dead person. He changed e-mail accounts often and spoke in code on the telephone. The strategy worked less than perfectly, according to the FBI, which arrested him on terrorism charges last month at O'Hare International Airport on the first leg of a trip to Pakistan. In his luggage were digital videos he took of a Danish newspaper office and a book titled "How to Pray Like a Jew."

Mammograms indicate defects of gov’t healthcare
Excerpt: The recent decision of the federal government to recommend that women abstain from annual mammograms illustrates well exactly how ObamaCare would force a deterioration in the quality of medical care, particularly for the elderly. The panel evaluating the effectiveness of mammograms did not find that they don’t work or that they do not save lives. Rather, it found that the lives they save are not “worth” the cost of annual testing. This bureaucratic balancing of human life and financial cost lies at the core of the government-managed healthcare in the Obama bill.

Rev. Jesse Jackson injects race into healthcare debate with Davis comments
Getting those “uppity blacks” in line! Excerpt: The Rev. Jesse Jackson’s public rebuke of Rep. Artur Davis has injected race into a healthcare debate marked by disputes on immigration, abortion and euthanasia. As the rhetoric intensifies on overhauling the nation’s healthcare system, Davis (D-Ala.) suggests he is accustomed to taking criticism from leaders in the African-American community. Davis, who turned 42 last month, has always been somewhat of an outsider in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). And his vote against the House healthcare reform bill earlier this month did not win him any additional friends in the caucus. He came to Congress soon after winning a primary against a CBC-backed member, Rep. Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.), whose surrogates had questioned whether the Harvard-educated former prosecutor was “black enough.” The CBC’s political action committee gave $10,000 to Hilliard to fight off Davis. Then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave even more. But when Davis faced his own primary in 2004, no such help was forthcoming…. Davis has amassed a more conservative voting record than most Democrats in the lower chamber. He is one of only 23 House Democrats who opposed healthcare reform and climate change. In announcing his opposition, Davis went so far as to say the health bill risks creating a “disaster.” The Alabama Democrat served as one of Rahm Emanuel’s deputies at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) during the 2006 cycle, when many CBC members clashed with the now White House chief of staff. Now that he’s running to become the first black governor of Alabama, he’s drifted further to the right. This year, he voted “present” on the CBC’s budget plan.

Senator Giuliani?
Excerpt: Of course, Giuliani's near-universal name recognition in the Empire State coupled with a vast national fundraising network built during his 2008 run for president make him far less dependent than a typical Senate challenger on entities like the National Republican Senatorial Committee and its ilk. On its face, the Senate race is a more winnable race for Giuliani. Gillibrand was appointed to the seat by Gov. David Paterson (D) earlier this year and remains a somewhat unknown commodity statewide. The White House, however, has done much to strengthen Gillibrand's hand -- most notably getting Rep. Steve Israel to bow out of a primary challenge to her.

Hoyer was healthcare’s middle man
Excerpt: As hundreds of Democrats erupted in thunderous applause when the House healthcare bill crossed the 218-vote threshold, a group of conservative Blue Dog Democrats who opposed the bill sat silently in the center of the chamber. There could have been many more of them. But beginning in June, when other House leaders were still focused on passing a climate change bill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was beginning his quest to ensure that a very ideologically diverse caucus and a definitively liberal leadership met somewhere in the middle on a bill to reform healthcare.

Senate ethics committee admonishes Burris
But it means nothing—he’s not running for re-election and he had the major qualification, his race. The Senate would not have seated anyone appointed by Blagjovich who wasn’t black. The Chicago Way.

Travesty in New York
Excerpt: For late-19th-century anarchists, terrorism was the "propaganda of the deed." And the most successful propaganda-by-deed in history was 9/11 -- not just the most destructive, but the most spectacular and telegenic. And now its self-proclaimed architect, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, has been given by the Obama administration a civilian trial in New York. Just as the memory fades, 9/11 has been granted a second life -- and KSM, a second act: "9/11, The Director's Cut," narration by KSM. September 11, 2001 had to speak for itself. A decade later, the deed will be given voice. KSM has gratuitously been presented with the greatest propaganda platform imaginable -- a civilian trial in the media capital of the world -- from which to proclaim the glory of jihad and the criminality of infidel America. So why is Attorney General Eric Holder doing this? Ostensibly, to demonstrate to the world the superiority of our system, where the rule of law and the fair trial reign. Really? What happens if KSM (and his co-defendants) "do not get convicted," asked Senate Judiciary Committee member Herb Kohl. "Failure is not an option," replied Holder. Not an option? Doesn't the presumption of innocence, er, presume that prosecutorial failure -- acquittal, hung jury -- is an option? By undermining that presumption, Holder is undermining the fairness of the trial, the demonstration of which is the alleged rationale for putting on this show in the first place. Moreover, everyone knows that whatever the outcome of the trial, KSM will never walk free. He will spend the rest of his natural life in U.S. custody. Which makes the proceedings a farcical show trial from the very beginning. Apart from the fact that any such trial will be a security nightmare and a terror threat to New York -- what better propaganda-by-deed than blowing up the courtroom, making KSM a martyr and turning the judge, jury and spectators into fresh victims? -- it will endanger U.S. security. Civilian courts with broad rights of cross-examination and discovery give terrorists access to crucial information about intelligence sources and methods.

Major Hasan’s Islamist Life
Excerpt: As the Pentagon and Senate launch what one analyst dubs “dueling Fort Hood investigations,” will they confront the hard truth of the Islamic angle? Despite encouraging references to “violent Islamists” by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Democrat of Connecticut), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, there is reason to worry about a whitewash of the massacre that took place on Nov. 5; that is just so much easier than facing the implications of a hostile ideology nearly exclusive to Muslims. Indeed, initial responses from the U.S. Army, law enforcement, politicians, and journalists broadly agreed that Maj. Nidal Hasan’s murderous rampage had nothing to do with Islam. Barack Obama declared “We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing” and Evan Thomas of Newsweek dismissed Hasan as “a nut case.”

Biting the nuclear bullet
Excerpt: "It will be just like Syria," said the strategic scholar just back from Israel and speculating about the much debated question whether Israel will eventually bomb Iran's nuclear installations. It was a private conversation, and the erudite Middle Eastern expert was referring to Israel's Sept. 6, 2007, bombing of a suspected nuclear site in Syria that had been secretly erected in a remote part of the country with the help of North Korean experts. "They [the Israeli air force] can drop their guided missiles down a smoke stack, and their submarine-launched cruise missiles can single out any building, and the Iranians, like the Syrians, will keep quiet about it." And why would Iran's leaders keep quiet instead of issuing a general call to arms to all Muslims? Because, he reasoned, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has bragged publicly that their anti-aircraft defenses are "impenetrable." Unmentioned is the distinct possibility that Mr. Ahmadinejad and some ayatollahs would welcome Israeli bombs as a way of uniting both Shia and Sunni wings of the global ummah against Israel and the United States.

The View From Man Bear Pig
Excerpt: It is not obvious that winning the hearts and minds of village elders, or linking villages to Kabul, wins the war. Our soldiers note that the Afghans are happy to accept what we give them but do not reciprocate by turning against the Taliban. The elders don't raise militias or secure recruits for the army, and they don't fight; there has been no replay of that scene from The Magnificent Seven in which the terrorized villagers finally rise up against their oppressors. Instead, fearful locals plead with migratory Taliban gangs to move on. A rural population, no matter how content with its government, cannot stand up to such a tough enemy. This enemy fights with the elusive cunning of Apaches. Unencumbered by armor and hardy of foot, the assorted insurgent groups loosely known as "taliban with a small 't'" engage in maneuver warfare. Weighed down by their heavy gear, our troops respond with firepower. Local police turn a blind eye to the ubiquitous watchers - called "dickers" - who warn the Taliban about most of our patrols. Tribal relationships ensure that there are few arrests. By shooting from concealment at a distance, the enemy can proclaim his tribal or jihadist determination but stay alive. We are in a war of attrition, not one of decisive confrontations - a war that pits the will of NATO against the endurance of enemies who can retreat to sanctuary in Pakistan, behind a porous 2,400-kilometer border. Because of that unsecured border, a strong Afghan security force will remain essential even after most of the country's districts have been pacified. We are creating Afghan security forces in our image: They wear heavy armor and rely on our medevacs and artillery. To support them, we're probably going to have to spend $20 billion to $40 billion annually for years to come, on top of the cost of U.S. combat units.

Nixing of Panthers complaint starts probe
Excerpt: Two senior House Republicans want the Justice Department to make public any reports or statements given to internal investigators by the career department lawyers who brought a civil complaint against the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) that later was dismissed by President Obama's political appointees. Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the "American people deserve a full accounting" of what they called the "incomprehensible dismissal" of a complaint charging the NBPP and three of its members with voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling place during the November 2008 presidential elections. The demand is contained in a Nov. 16 letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., referring to an ongoing inquiry in the matter by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which investigates accusations of misconduct involving department lawyers.

Is It Permissible To Join A Kaafir Army?
American Muslim says Muslims shouldn’t join the Army. If I said that, I’d be called a racist (sic—it’s a religion-political system not a race), Islamophobe. Excerpt: So can the brothers find me a fatwa from a repudible scholar of the sunnah (not one that quotes from his desires) that says that it is permissible to put citizenship above our Islam and join the kafir army and to fight against Islam and the Muslims? It is permissible to join an army that calls for the men to shave their beards, salute the kufr flag and judge by other than what Allah revealed? (FYI, “Kufr” is an unflattering term for we infidels.)

Somali woman stoned for adultery
Excerpt: A 20-year-old woman divorcee accused of committing adultery in Somalia has been stoned to death by Islamists in front of a crowd of about 200 people. A judge working for the militant group al-Shabab said she had had an affair with an unmarried 29-year-old man. He said she gave birth to a still-born baby and was found guilty of adultery. Her boyfriend was given 100 lashes.

Clinton Judge Impeached
A federal district judge who overturned a Louisiana law banning partial-birth abortion is now on trial himself, facing impeachment charges before Congress. G. Thomas Porteous Jr., a Clinton appointee, is accused of seeking money and gifts from attorneys with cases before his court, stretching back to the 1980s when he was a state judge. By 2000, Porteous had run up credit card debts -- mainly cash advances at casinos -- exceeding $150,000. Other allegations against Porteous include declaring bankruptcy under a false name in 2001 and filing false financial disclosure statements. The obvious question beckons: Was justice for sale? It's unfortunate that Porteous appears to have a gambling problem because his questionable integrity could also have tainted his decisions. Porteous ruled against the partial-birth ban, calling it a "back-door effort" to limit abortion, despite overwhelming front door legislative support for the measure, and used his power on the bench to supplant that of the legislature. The system of government we hold dear depends on integrity in all three branches, and it seems that Louisiana doesn't have the best track record on that front. The Patriot Post (

The Union Label
A 17-year-old aspiring Eagle Scout in Allentown, Pennsylvania, recently spent 250 hours clearing a 1,000-foot walking path in a local park. "I decided to do my part in completing this part of the trail. In that way, others could enjoy walking along the river without having to walk on the busy road," the Scout said. Who could possibly have a problem with that? The Service Employees International Union, that's who. Nick Balzano of the local SEIU said that the union is considering filing a grievance against the city for allowing the Scout to do a job that only union members should be doing. After the city laid off 39 SEIU workers earlier this year, Balzano said, "We'll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails" because "[t]here's to be no volunteers." Of course, instead of voluntarily working on the trail (or Balzano's grammar), the union will be working on the grievance. Fortunately, common decency may yet prevail. After the mayor publicly announced his support for the Scout, Balzano hedged, saying that the union will likely "let this one go." What generosity. The Patriot Post (

To Keep and Bear Arms
As Margaret Parrish of Georgia headed outside to see what her puppies were barking at, things immediately took a turn for the worse. As she opened the door, an unidentified intruder grabbed her by the hair and placed a gun to her head. Margaret's husband, 83-year-old John Parrish, watched as the suspect told her, "If you make a sound I'll blow your brains out." He then proceeded to duct tape the arms and legs of both Margaret and John and then left to begin searching through their home. Danny Carlson and a 10-year old girl were also among those in the house and soon found themselves being tied up as well. This bought John time to get free of the duct tape as he remembers thinking, "I had to get my gun." Once free, John grabbed his .22-cal revolver and began firing at the suspect who promptly fled the home. The Patriot Post (

Reagan turns down offer to join Marines
Great, funny letter.

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