Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Political Digest December 15, 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.

To all who send me items for the blog. Many folks ask how I keep up. With several hundreds e-mails at work and at home many days, I don’t. If I get something without a link, it probably doesn’t get used unless I have time to search. If I get a video, power point or link to a story without any information about it (YOU HAVE TO READ/SEE THIS is not information), I don’t have time to look at it. If I get something that I’ve seen/used weeks ago, I don’t open (Some folks are at the end of the food chain!) If I get things that I think are counter-productive, because they are unverified or too over the top, I don’t use them as they help the other side. (So does racist stuff, but I don’t use that because it’s wrong.) Cutesy messages, must read virus warnings, Ueban Legends and funny pictures usually fall into the “not enough time” pile. So I apologize to you if I didn’t read/use/respond to your message, but it wouldn’t be possible even if I didn’t have a more than full time management job. But thanks for thinking of me.

Arrests suggest U.S. Muslims, like those in Europe, can be radicalized abroad http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/11/AR2009121104404.html?wpisrc=newsletter
Gee, who would have guessed? You mean Ft. Hoot, the Army Recruiters who were murdered, the Chicago terrorist case, the DC snipers and many other things were not isolated incidents? Jihadwatch.com and others have been pointing out the problem for years, but the authorities and the media have had PC blinders on. But suggesting there is a problem is “Islamophobic,” so more Americans will have to die to avoid offending anyone. And CAIR, which is now speaking out, has been tied to Jihad overseas. Excerpt: A spike in terrorism cases involving U.S. citizens is challenging long-held assumptions that Muslims in Europe are more susceptible to radicalization than their better-assimilated counterparts in the United States. Four investigations disclosed in the past 12 months, including the arrests of five Northern Virginia men in Pakistan this week, underscore what the Obama administration asserts is a domestic threat emanating from Americans training overseas with al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups in Pakistan. "We have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror," President Obama said this month in announcing plans to deploy 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American Muslim organizations, jolted by the spate of cases, are abandoning their hesitation to speak out about the issue.

Terrorist recruiters leverage the Web
Excerpt: Pakistani authorities on Saturday were searching for an insurgent figure believed to have aided five Northern Virginia men who allegedly tried to join al-Qaeda, saying the case could help unravel a growing network of terrorist recruiters who scour the Internet for radicalized young men. Investigators have identified the man, known as Saifullah, as a recruiter for the Pakistani Taliban and said he contacted one of the American men on YouTube, exchanged coded e-mails with the group, invited them to Pakistan and guided them once they arrived.

Afghanistan’s ‘Bravest Woman’ Pins Hopes on USA, not Obama http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=6f9d9d44ef64ff6efecef67f8d2ff0f9
Excerpt: Immediately “after the 9/11 tragedy, my people thought maybe this time the US government will be helpful for our people,” she said. “They were hopeful that Taliban domination has been destroyed and maybe this time they will give a chance to justice-loving, democrat-minded people of my country. At least to people who don’t have bloody hands!” But Joya found that hope dashed quickly –- as early as in December 2003 – in the first meeting of Afghanistan’s newly-elected constitutional assembly. She looked around the room and saw the United States and NATO had invited a who’s who of the warlords who had destroyed her country to form a new government. She was 24. And she couldn’t stay silent. “I wish to criticize my compatriots in this room,” she said amid boos, catcalls and scattered cheers. “Why would you allow criminals to be present at this Loya Jirga, warlords responsible for our country’s situation? Afghanistan is the center for national and international conflicts. They oppress women and have ruined our country. They should be prosecuted. They might be forgiven by the Afghan people, but not by history.” The chairman responded by throwing her out. “The sister has crossed the line of what is considered common courtesy,” he said, banging his gavel. “She is banished from this assembly and cannot return. Send her out! Guards, throw her out! She doesn’t deserve to be here.” But Joya did not give up. She ran for Parliament again in 2005 and was elected a second time. In 2006, she was physically attacked on the floor of the Parliament, when she said: “There are two types of Mujahidin” – freedom fighters – “one who were really Mujahidin, the second who killed tens of thousands of innocent people and who are criminals." Joya was again expelled from Parliament. One lawmaker, Jebel Chelgari, said that wasn’t enough. She should be punished with a gun, he said. Like many members of post-Taliban Parliament, Joya says Chelgari has a reputation for brutality.

How the Afghanistan Air War Got Stuck in the Sky http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/ff_end_air_war/
We would have been hard pressed to win WWII with these ROI. But maybe winning isn’t the point? Excerpt: Anibal Paz is nearly surrounded. The sergeant and his squad of 15 or so Marines are crouched behind the crumbling mud walls of a small Afghan compound taking fire from three directions. Hiding in the tree line to the south, guerrillas pepper the Marines with automatic weapons fire. From a cornfield to the west come more AK-47 bursts. Most worrisome, though, are the bullets whizzing in from a squat building in a second compound a few hundred yards to the southeast. These are sniper shots from a bolt-action rifle. Unlike the AK barrage, they get closer with every round.

Taliban can be admired for their faith and loyalty, says bishop http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/6804155/Taliban-can-be-admired-for-their-faith-and-loyalty-says-bishop.html
Of course, their “faith” requires them to blow up girls schools, throw acid in the faces of young girls who go to school, forbid women to work and marry girls of nine to old men. Excerpt: The Taliban can be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to one another, the new bishop for the Armed Forces has claimed. (Hitler was steadfast in his Nazi faith and loyal to those who slaughtered Jews, too. Mustn’t be simplistic.)

Secret document exposes Iran’s nuclear trigger http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6955351.ece
I figure Chicago is only a secondary target. NYC and DC likely to go up first.

U.S. firms lag in bids for Iraqi oil
So much for the charge we were there for oil. Excerpt: Chinese, Russian and European companies won the right this weekend to develop major oil fields in Iraq, while U.S. firms made a paltry showing at auctions that represent the first major incursion of foreign oil companies into Iraq in four decades. The companies that secured 10 contracts in auctions held over the weekend and in June stand to profit handsomely, but they are taking a significant gamble. Iraq has the third-largest proven crude reserves in the world, but the country remains perilous; it suffers from chronic corruption and acrimonious politics that have prevented the passing of new laws to regulate the sector. Of the seven U.S. companies that registered for the auctions, only one emerged as the leading partner in a consortium that won a contract. Another U.S. company has a minority stake in a contract.

Islamists flee Philippines prison after militants' raid
Let’s close Gitmo! Coming soon to a prison in Illinois. Excerpt: A group of suspected Islamic militants have attacked a jail in the southern Philippines, freeing at least 31 prisoners, prison officials say. Two people, including a prison guard, are believed to have been killed during a gunfight as the prisoners escaped.

A senator's moral dilemma on health bill
Prediction: he’ll cave. Might take a big stick or a bag of carrots, but they’ll get him. Lieberman found out what happens to Democrats who veer from the party line, when his friends supported his opponent. Excerpt: When he took office in 1991 as Nebraska's governor, Ben Nelson was one of just two Democratic governors opposed to abortion rights. The other, Robert Casey Sr. of Pennsylvania, soon found that position played no small role in denying him a speaking role at the party's 1992 national convention. Almost 19 years later, with a new abortion fight threatening a Democratic priority -- the passage of sweeping health-care legislation -- Nelson finds himself again on the outside looking in. This time around, the late Casey's son, Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), has a key role in finding a compromise that would allow Nelson to join the rest of his Democratic colleagues behind President Obama's foremost domestic agenda item.

Lieberman and Nelson: Public option compromise still not good enough http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/71967-lieberman-nelson-public-option-compromise-still-cause-for-concern
Then again….Excerpt: Two key senators criticized the most recent healthcare compromise Sunday, saying the policies replacing the public option are still unacceptable. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) both said a Medicare "buy-in" option for those aged 55-64 was a deal breaker. I'm concerned that it's the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option," Nelson said on CBS's "Face the Nation." Lieberman said Democrats should stop looking for a public option "compromise" and simply scrap the idea altogether. "You've got to take out the Medicare buy-in. You've got to forget about the public option," he said.

Medicare cuts could hurt hospitals, expert warns
Not to worry. They won’t really cut Medicare, just pretending they will to keep the CBO scoring for the first six years of “reform” under a trillion.

Doubts grow over Senate's Christmas deadline for healthcare reform http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/71921-doubts-grow-over-senates-christmas-deadline-for-healthcare-reform
Excerpt: Doubts are growing among Senate Democrats that they will be able to pass the healthcare reform bill by Christmas, although they remain publicly optimistic. Democrats say it is still possible to pass the legislation out of the chamber by the deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), but they say the margin for error is razor thin. I’m assuming we’re coming back after Christmas,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Finance Health Care Subcommittee, who would serve as a negotiator in conference talks with the House after Senate passage. Progress on the Senate floor ground to a halt this past week. Lawmakers did not vote on any healthcare amendments Wednesday, Thursday or Friday as Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrestled with each other to a stalemate in behind-the-scenes procedural disagreements.

Telling Doctors How to Practice Medicine
Excerpt: In Redefining Health Care, Michael Porter and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg explained that the key to efficient health care is doctors’ repackaging and repricing the services they provide. In The Innovator’s Prescription, Clay Christensen showed that doctors need different payment structures, depending on the types of activities they engage in. In Market-Driven Health Care and in other books Regina Herzlinger argued for delivering health care in specialized, focused factories. In reviewing these publications [here, here and here], I argued that the desired reforms would be natural and normal in an unfettered medical marketplace. Our system of third-party payment, however, stands in the way of high-quality, low-cost care. To see how health care could be different, we can look to those markets where the third-party payers are absent. Concierge doctors, for example, consult with their patients by phone and e-mail, keep medical records electronically, prescribe electronically and provide other services that insurance normally doesn’t pay for. Walk-in clinics post their prices and strive to lower the time cost as well as the money cost of care. In the medical tourism market, there is not only transparency, but price and quality competition are the norm.

Canada's health-care system is not a model U.S. should emulate http://www.annarbor.com/news/opinion/on-dec6-the-detroit-news/
Excerpt: On Dec. 6, the Detroit News featured a story about the socialized medicine system that exists in Canada. Along with all the praise for that system, the article included brief mentions of “long wait times” with little elaboration of what this means. One example they did include was the story of Shirley McGuin, 67. She is a Canadian citizen who waited nearly three years for a knee replacement. She finally came to the United States and in a matter of a few weeks had the surgery without insurance at a cost $22,000. Evidently. Shirley decided she could not wait years longer for her “free” knee replacement. The problem is that health care is rationed in Canada and every country that has socialized medicine. Each type of operation (heart bypass, etc.) is given a quota. When the number of surgeries of a particular type (knee replacement etc.) reaches the quota for that procedure, the Canadian government will not pay for any more surgeries of that type until the following year.

Reid Asks Republicans for Weekend Off, Has Big Easy Fundraiser to Get To http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2009/12/reid-asks-republicans-for-weekend-off-has-big-easy-fundraiser-to-get-to.html
Excerpt: But Reid, who wants to get a healthcare bill finished by Christmas, urged Republicans on the Senate floor to forego a debate on several conference reports this weekend in order to give Senators and staffers the weekend off. lent to other Senators and staffers….It turns out Reid has a 1,000 plus per plate fundraiser scheduled for Saturday in New Orleans, according to one local paper, which also reports that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, a key swing moderate in the health care debate, will also be in attendance.

Nations' mounting debts worry global investors
As the bitter jokes goes, forget stocks, bonds, CDs and gold. Buy ammo and canned food.

$11 billion in disclosed earmarks expected in fiscal year 2010 http://thehill.com/homenews/house/71951-11-billion-in-disclosed-earmarks-expected-in-fiscal-year-2010
Excerpt: Congress is on pace to spend $11 billion on disclosed earmarks in fiscal year 2010, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. That’s about $4 billion less than last year’s cost of earmarks, which fund projects at the specific request of lawmakers. Disclosed earmarks totaled nearly $15 billion in fiscal year 2009, the groups said. The total disclosed earmarks, in both number and dollar amount, will be slightly down -- a trim or even a haircut -- [from] what they were in fiscal year 2009,” said Steve Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense. Democratic lawmakers are hailing the reduction…. For instance, a number of new community-based outpatient clinics to be funded in the Department of Veterans Affairs spending bill will go to districts for lawmakers on the House Appropriations subcommittee that wrote the bill. Ellis said the culture of steering taxpayer dollars to win votes hasn't changed. Just last month, Democratic Senate leaders secured the support for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for a key procedural vote on the healthcare bill by agreeing to send $300 million in disaster aid to her state, he noted. (BO promised to veto earmark-filled budgets. Bet he lied.)

Conservatives replaced Bachus in the lead on regulatory overhaul http://thehill.com/homenews/house/71989-conservatives-replaced-bachus-in-the-lead-on-reg-overhaul Excerpt:
Two junior, ardently conservative Republicans have led the fight against President Barack Obama's Wall Street regulatory overhaul, often stealing the show from the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Spencer Bachus. Bachus (R-Ala.) managed the time on the floor this week as Republicans unsuccessfully fought the legislation. But it has been Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) in the driver's seat for the party's work on the pre-eminent financial services legislation of the 111th Congress.

The Republicans' war within
Excerpt: CLAREMONT, CALIF. -- A few facts reveal just how far the Republican Party has fallen in California. A Republican hasn't carried the state in a presidential contest since 1988. The last time a California GOP candidate won a U.S. Senate election was in the same decade. Nowadays, Republicans' share of the state's registered voters has shrunk to 31 percent, a historic low. "There are large parts of the state where the party is irrelevant," said Allan Hoffenblum, a well-known California political analyst who has been a campaign manager for Republicans in the state. "It's not even a statewide party, really."

An uncertain future for the bipartisan Bayh
Excerpt: Bayh (D-Ind.) was one of seven Democrats to cross party lines on the abortion-funding measure, a vote that many liberal interest groups cast as an open attempt to erode the legal rights of women. It's one in a series of Bayh votes that have drawn the ire of the party establishment -- he was one of three Democrats to vote against the omnibus spending bill Sunday and has been an outspoken critic of President Obama's "cap and trade" climate bill -- and it cemented his status as an apostate in the eyes of the Democratic base. A check of aisle-crossing votes in The Washington Post's congressional voting database shows that Bayh is the most conservative Democratic senator in the 111th Congress, voting with the Democratic majority 72 percent of the time. (By comparison, Bayh voted with his party nearly 84 percent of the time in the 110th Congress, when he was being considered as a vice presidential nominee, and nearly 91 percent of the time in the 109th Congress, when he was considering a presidential run.)

Bart Gordon to retire
Blue Dog Democrat in GOP heavy district. Voted against the House Healthcare Takeover bill. Should be a GOP pick up in 2010. Excerpt: Gordon has held the central Tennessee 6th district since 1984 but was headed to his most serious race in recent memory in 2010 as national Republicans had aggressively recruited against him due to the GOP lean of the seat. (Arizona Sen. John McCain carried it with 62 percent in 2008 and President George W. Bush won it with 60 percent four years earlier.) Gordon along with Reps. Brian Baird (Wash.), John Tanner (Tenn.) and Dennis Moore (Kans.) have announced their retirements in recent weeks from seats that will be major Republican targets in 2010.

Study Shows State's Homicide Rate Predicted Its Traffic Fatalities http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=18792&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DPD
Excerpt: A state's homicide rate in 2006 predicted its traffic fatalities better than nine other well-known factors -- including how likely residents were to wear their seatbelts or to drive drunk. This is not because more killers are taking the wheel or more drivers are using their vehicles as murder weapons. The connection is due to the fact that some populations are more violent and aggressive than others, and this aggression leads both to dangerous driving and to a higher murder rate, says Michael Sivak, a psychologist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich.

White House Serves Acorn-Shaped Cookies at Christmas Party – “In Your Face” to ACORN Critics
Showing support for tax fraud and child prostitution. You can’t make this stuff up.

Businesses hold world hostage over carbon credits
Excerpt: WND research reveals the European Union's cap-and-trade exchange is vulnerable to a sophisticated form of corporate extortion in which EU bureaucrats in Brussels are manipulated into paying hundreds of millions of dollars in carbon permit bribes to keep companies from moving jobs to Third World nations. In fact, it appears the scam is already under way. The crux of the scheme is this: European steelmakers have threatened to leave the EU for India, eliminating the jobs of thousands of workers in the process, unless the EU grants the steelmakers free carbon credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Climate change emails row deepens - and Russians admit they DID send them! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1235395/SPECIAL-INVESTIGATION-Climate-change-emails-row-deepens--Russians-admit-DID-send-them.html
Excerpt: The claim was both simple and terrifying: that temperatures on planet Earth are now ‘likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years’. As its authors from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) must have expected, it made headlines around the world. Yet some of the scientists who helped to draft it, The Mail on Sunday can reveal, harboured uncomfortable doubts. In the words of one, David Rind from the US space agency Nasa, it ‘looks like there were years around 1000AD that could have been just as warm’. Keith Briffa from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), which plays a key role in forming IPCC assessments, urged caution, warning that when it came to historical climate records, there was no new data, only the ‘same old evidence’ that had been around for years. ‘Let us not try to over-egg the pudding,’ he wrote in an email to an IPCC colleague in September 2006. ‘True, there have been many different techniques used to aggregate and scale data - but the efficacy of these is still far from established.’ But when the ‘warmest for 1,300 years’ claim was published in 2007 in the IPCC’s fourth report, the doubters kept silent.

New study: More Democrats than Republicans believe in ghosts, talking with the dead, fortunetellers
Unfortunately, the dead they are talking to are Marx, Lenin and Stalin. We talk to Ronnie Reagan. Excerpt: Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics," the Pew study says. For example, 21 percent of Republicans report that they have been in touch with someone who is dead, while 36 percent of Democrats say they have done so. Eleven percent of Republicans say they have seen a ghost, while 21 percent of Democrats say so. And nine percent of Republicans say they have consulted a fortuneteller, while 22 percent of Democrats have

Obama's Ambassador Nominee Linked to Cuban Spy
Ho hum. Another BO appointment with anti-American ties. Excerpt: Mari Del Carmen Aponte’s nomination as President Clinton’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic had to be withdrawn in 1998 when the late Sen. Jesse Helms let it be known he had an intelligence memo examining her connections to Communist Cuba’s spy agency. On Wednesday, after years of giving many thousands of dollars to Democratic Party candidates and causes, Aponte has been nominated as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador by President Obama, who said her “depth of experience … will be valuable to my administration as we work to bring about real change for the American people.” Aponte is a lawyer and longtime friend of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who served on Bill Clinton’s White House transition team in 1993. A 1998 Insight Magazine article said, “while routinely monitoring Cuban intelligence officers at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, the FBI discovered that a member of President Clinton’s White House transition team may have been recruited as a spy for Fidel Castro.”

At gunpoint–reporter stopped from asking Climategate questions
“At gunpoint” may be too strong, though the guards were apparently armed and put an end to questions the elites didn’t like. Only pro-warming journalists allowed. Excerpt: The incident in question occurred on Friday in Copenhagen during a press briefing. Professor Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, one of the U.N.'s mouthpieces on the 'dangers of global warming,' was answering questions from reporters about the Copenhagen conference. Veteran journalist and film maker Phelim McAleer began to question Professor Schneider on the ramifications of the Climategate scandal. After a brief exchange that turned testy when Professor Schneider refused to answer questions and interrupted several of McAleer's inquiries, this is what happened next:

Here’s a video of it

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll
Excerpt: Overall, 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. That’s the lowest level yet measured for this president. Previously, his overall approval rating had fallen to 45% twice, once in early September and once in late November. Fifty-five percent (55%) now disapprove.

"From the point of view of fundamental human liberties, there is little to choose between communism, socialism and national socialism. They are all examples of the collectivist or tolalitarian state....in its essentials, not only is completed socialism the same as communism, but it hardly differs from fascism." Labor MP Ivor Thomas, The Socialist Tragedy.

"The [U.S.] Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals ... it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government ... it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government." --author and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982) The Patriot Post www.patriotpost.us/subscribe/

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