Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Political Digest December 2, 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.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-USSR) has a healthcare poll
Vote early and often.

Webb could put the hickory to Obama's Afghan plan
Excerpt: Since Obama has taken office, Webb's support has grown weaker. It's been particularly noticeable since Virginia voters swung sharply away from the Democratic Party on Nov. 3. Webb recently sent Obama a letter warning the president against making any promises to his fellow world leaders when he hits the U.N.'s global warming summit in Copenhagen next week. "As you well know from your time in the Senate, only specific legislation agreed upon in the Congress, or a treaty ratified by the Senate, could actually create such a commitment on behalf of our country," Webb wrote. Webb and fellow hillbilly Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., want to skip Obama's "cap and trade" plan in favor of building 100 new nuclear power plants in the next decade. On health care, Webb was slow to agree to allow debate to begin on his party's bill in the Senate and continues to say he will oppose any bill that is not "reasonable in scope, cost and impact" or that expands coverage to the detriment of the middle class -- signs he might block Obama's costly plan. Webb rebuked Obama for deciding to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other terrorists in civilian courts as opposed to military tribunals. "They do not belong in our country, they do not belong in our courts and they do not belong in our prisons," Webb told Chris Wallace of Fox News.

Four reasons for 40,000 more troops
Excerpt: President Obama has apparently made his difficult decision about the idea of adding four combat brigades and a total of up to 40,000 more American troops to the mission in Afghanistan. Obama has already added about 30,000 troops this year, bringing the U.S. total close to 68,000 and the overall NATO/foreign presence to about 105,000. The corruption in the Karzai government complicates the decision. But there are four main reasons why on balance the president is right to support Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal if, as expected, he promises to provide almost all those added forces when he addresses the nation tonight.

Palin running even with Obama?
Before Huckabee met Willie Horton. Excerpt: Obama is essentially tied with all three Republicans, leading Huckabee 45%-41% and Palin 46%-43% and even with Romney at 44%-44%. In other words, Obama is running at his job approval rating level, which Rasmussen has at 46%-54%. This is reminiscent of the 2004 general election, in which George W. Bush’s 51% of the vote mirrored his job approval numbers. Number two. This is a vote, up or down, on Obama; it doesn’t make much difference who his Republican opponent is. He runs just about the same against Romney, whose favorable and unfavorable numbers are 49%-38% as he does against Huckabee (57%-30%) or Palin (46%-49%).

Help Wanted, No Private (Real World) Sector Experience Required
Excerpt: A friend sends along the following chart from a J.P. Morgan research report. It examines the prior private sector experience of the cabinet officials since 1900 that one might expect a president to turn to in seeking advice about helping the economy. It includes secretaries of State, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Labor, Transportation, Energy, and Housing & Urban Development, and excludes Postmaster General, Navy, War, Health, Education & Welfare, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security—432 cabinet members in all.

The Poor Today are Better Off than the Average Person of 1971
But the current administration will fix that. Excerpt: The overall lesson is clear: lives for Americans below the poverty line continue to get better in terms of what they are able to put in their households and have to make use of everyday. And do note that the average American household in 2005 was doing much better than its 1971 counterpart. MUCH better - and this doesn't even count medical advances and the like. So whatever one hears about stagnating wages and the like, the bottom line is ultimately what we can afford to buy and have in our households to improve our lives. By those measures, life for the average American is better today than 35 years ago, life for poor Americans is much better than it was 35 years ago, and poor Americans today largely live better than the average American did 35 years ago. Hard to square with a narrative of economic stagnation or decline.

The Geopolitics of The Dubai Debt Crisis: It's Iran vs. The United States
Excerpt: The role of Iran may be the most overlooked in the Dubai debt crisis. Of all the states of the United Arab Emirates federation, Dubai has maintained the closest ties to Iran. Indeed, as international pressure has built on Iran over the past decade, Dubai has prospered from those ties. It provides critical banking and trade links for Iran, often serving as the go-between for European or Asian companies and financial firms that want to do business with Iran without violating international sanctions. Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest member of the UAE and a close ally of the US, may be pressuring Dubai to limit its links to Iran. Indeed, this pressure may be behind statements coming from Abu Dhabi about offering “selective” support for Dubai. Companies or creditors thought to be too linked to Iran could find themselves shut out of any bailout. The United States government, which has remained somewhat taciturn throughout this crisis, is no doubt encouraging Abu Dhabi to apply this pressure. In part because of Dubai’s connections to Iran, US financial institutions are not among the biggest creditors to Dubai World.

Censoring contradictions-A Must Read
The always-entertaining Mark Steyn. Excerpt: Look for the peer-reviewed label! And then just believe whatever it is they tell you. The trouble with outsourcing your marbles to the peer-reviewed set is that, if you take away one single thing from the leaked documents, it's that the global warm-mongers have wholly corrupted the "peer-review" process. When it comes to promoting the impending ecopalypse the Climate Research Unit is the nerve-center of the operation. The "science" of the CRU dominates the "science" behind the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which dominates the "science" behind the congressional cap-and-trade boondoggle, the upcoming Copenhagen shakindownen of the developed world, and the now routine phenomenon of leaders of advanced, prosperous societies talking like gibbering madmen escaped from the padded cell, whether it's President Obama promising to end the rise of the oceans or the prince of Wales saying we only have 96 months left to save the planet. But don't worry, it's all "peer reviewed." Here's what Phil Jones of the CRU and his colleague Michael E. Mann of Penn State mean by "peer review." When Climate Research published a paper dissenting from the Jones-Mann "consensus," Mr. Jones demanded that the journal "rid itself of this troublesome editor" and Mr. Mann advised that "we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers." So much for Climate Research. When Geophysical Research Letters also showed signs of wandering off the "consensus" reservation, Tom Wigley ("one of the world's foremost experts on climate change") suggested they get the goods on its editor, Jim Saiers, and go to his bosses at the American Geophysical Union to "get him ousted." When another pair of troublesome dissenters emerge, Mr. Jones assured Mr. Mann, "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" That in essence is what they did. The more frantically they talked up "peer review" as the only legitimate basis for criticism, the more assiduously they turned the process into what James Lewis calls the Chicago machine politics of international science. The headline in the Wall Street Journal Europe is unimproveable: "How To Forge A Consensus." Pressuring publishers, firing editors, blacklisting scientists: That's "peer review," climate-style. The more their echo chamber shriveled, the more Mr. Mann and Mr. Jones insisted they and only they represent the "peer-reviewed" "consensus." And gullible types like Ed Begley Jr. and Andrew Revkin of the New York Times fell for it hook, line and tree-ring.

A test for the blocks needed to rebuild a nation
Excerpt: From Somalia, Cambodia, East Timor and the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq today, world powers have at best a mixed record when it comes to establishing functional, stable governments in countries devastated by war. The efforts have been long and costly, tangible results often hard to measure, and support for a prolonged involvement difficult to maintain. Congressional leaders have already voiced deep skepticism about pouring billions more dollars into an American-led war that so far has shown little progress toward making Afghanistan self-sustaining. "You can't be half in and half out," said Jonathan T. Howe, a retired Navy admiral who led an ill-fated U.N. reconstruction effort in Somalia in 1993. Howe went to Mogadishu in March of that year with an $856 million budget and a mandate to rebuild Somalia virtually from scratch. Six months later, after 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in a bloody street battle in Mogadishu, the operation was in tatters and President Bill Clinton ordered American troops to withdraw.

34,000 troops will be sent to Afghanistan
Excerpt: Even as he escalates U.S. involvement, Obama will lay out in his speech what amounts to an exit strategy, centered on measures to strengthen the Afghan government so that its security forces can begin taking control of their own country. He is expected to specify benchmarks for Afghan progress on both the military and political fronts, according to U.S. and allied officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the strategy. (Message to Taliban. Hold out, we are not in it for the long haul. Couple of years, you’ll be back in power, abusing young girls. The Taliban say, “The Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time.”)

Threat of reconciliation hovers over centrist Dems on healthcare
Excerpt: Talk about using budget reconciliation to pass healthcare reform in the Senate has faded from public view, but Democratic leaders continue to hang the threat over centrists in private. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) discussed reconciliation with wavering centrists before an important procedural vote to begin debate on healthcare reform. On Saturday, Nov. 21, three centrists, Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), voted to commence debate, despite heavy pressure from Republicans and conservative groups to oppose it. Nelson wrote in an op-ed last week that he voted for the motion to avoid the prospect of Reid bringing healthcare legislation to the floor under budget reconciliation, a process with special procedural protections originally intended for legislation to reduce the deficit, such as tax increases or spending cuts.

Republicans, examined
Excerpt: Write Post pollster Jon Cohen and senior political reporter Dan Balz in their piece on the survey: "Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are overwhelmingly negative about Obama and the Democratic Party more broadly, with nearly all dissatisfied with the administration's policies and almost half saying they are 'angry' about them. About three-quarters have a more basic complaint, saying Obama does not stand for 'traditional American values.' More than eight in 10 say there is no chance they would support his reelection." But, that good news comes with a dose of bad too. Again, Cohen/Balz: "Fewer than half of the Republicans and Republican-leaners surveyed by The Washington Post see the party's leadership as taking the GOP in the 'right direction,' down sharply from this time four years ago. About four in 10 are dissatisfied with the policy proposals being offered by congressional Republicans, and similar numbers see the current crop of GOP legislators as out of touch with their problems and personal values. Nearly a third say the Republicans in Congress are not standing up for the party's core values." The clearest winner in the poll is former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who is identified not only as the leader of the Republican party but also receives the highest percentage when GOPers are asked for whom they would most likely vote in the 2012 presidential primary and caucus process.

Barriers to Affordable Housing
They interfere with the market and costs go up, not down. But they never learn. And the poor suffer, but don’t know why, so continue to vote for their “champions”—limo liberals living in mansions.

Get Equipped on What’s at Stake with ObamaCare
Excerpt: are some of the highlights that Heritage has noted in the past week: • The Senate bill breaks President Barack Obama’s promise not to impose new taxes on middle-class Americans. • The legislation allows feds to micromanage all private health insurance plans. • The bill creates the health exchange framework that allows for a government-run health plan to overtake the health insurance market. • Its 20-year costs are more in the $4.9 trillion price range once you cut through the budget gimmicks. • The Reid health bill leaves businesses, especially small businesses, out of the picture. • The legislation’s employer and individual mandates use taxes to punish uninsured Americans and companies that hire workers from low-income families. • The bill’s eight pages regarding abortion policies include language that fosters coverage of elective abortions and diminishes the right of insurers that don’t want to cover elective abortions.

The Militarization of Sex
Excerpt: Mutaa is a form of "temporary marriage" only acceptable within Shiite communities, one that allows couples to have religiously sanctioned sex for a limited period of time, without any commitments, and without the obligatory involvement of religious figures. In conservative Muslim societies known for their strict sense of propriety, mutaa offers an escape clause. The contract is very simple. The woman says: "I marry myself to you for [a specific period of time] and for [a specified dowry]" and the man says: "I accept." The period can range between one hour and a year, and is subject to renewal. A Muslim woman can only marry a Muslim man, but a Muslim man can temporarily marry a Muslim, Christian, or Jewish woman, as long as she is a divorcée or a widow. However, those interviewed for this article confirmed that Hezbollah-the "Party of God"-has allowed the practice to spread to virgins or girls who have never married before, as long as the permission of her guardian (father or paternal grandfather) is obtained. (We call that prostitution in the West.)

Top Ten Questions and Answers on Obama’s Strategy in Afghanistan
How to judge the President’s speech

Racial disparity: All active ethics probes focus on black lawmakers
Black politician gets in trouble? It’s racism! Every time. Good commentary on the story here:

Premature detonation in Gaza: One jihadist killed, three wounded
Excerpt: Whoops. No virgins for you, pal.

UN marks November 29 'day of mourning',7340,L-3813099,00.html
Excerpt: While Israel celebrates date on which it was given a state by UN, latter plans anti-Israeli resolutions.

FBI: UTEP student made false bomb threat, said 'it is fun to blow people up'
Didn’t get the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace memo. Excerpt: An electrical engineering student at the University of Texas at El Paso(UTEP) appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge Wednesday on charges he allegedly made a bomb threat to a UTEP employee. According to the criminal complaint, Ahmad Ibrahim Fares-Hammad "maliciously" made the false bomb threat to an administrative assistant at the Biological Science building on November 18, 2009 and told her "it is fun to blow people up."

'Honor killings' in USA raise concerns
Can’t talk about it though. Islamophobic and not PC. Excerpt: Muslim immigrant men have been accused of six "honor killings" in the United States in the past two years, prompting concerns that the Muslim community and police need to do more to stop such crimes. "There is broad support and acceptance of this idea in Islam, and we're going to see it more and more in the United States," says Robert Spencer, who has trained FBI and military authorities on Islam and founded Jihad Watch, which monitors radical Islam Honor killings are generally defined as murders of women by relatives who claim the victim brought shame to the family. Thousands of such killings have occurred in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Palestinian territories, according to the World Health Organization. (Do you think if Christians were killing thousands of women around the world for the family’s honor, feminists would have something to say?)

Random Thoughts by Thomas Sowell, PhD
Excerpt: Sometimes we seem like people on a pleasure boat drifting down the Niagara river, unaware that there are waterfalls up ahead. I don't know what people think is going to happen when a nation that already sponsors international terrorism has nuclear bombs to give to terrorists around the world…….Since this is an era when many people are concerned about "fairness" and "social justice," what is your "fair share" of what someone else has worked for?

Obama invites a nightmare
Let us pray that this doesn’t come true. Excerpt: The storyline is hauntingly familiar: terrorist detainees were moved to a major city to await trial. While there, fellow Islamic terrorists decided to make a daring and dastardly attempt to gain their release, not by attacking the well-protected courtroom or the heavily guarded detention facility (they are bloodthirsty but they are not stupid), but by going for a more tantalizing target. Thirty-five bomb-laden Muslim terrorists stormed a crowded middle school full of parents, teachers, and children. By doing so, they immediately gained what they desired most: the eyes of a watching world paralyzed with fear at what they might do. And the world had reason to fear. Over the course of this three-day massacre, the terrorists barricaded doors and tied up authorities in "negotiations" that were used only to buy them the time they needed to coldly execute the stronger men hostages, rape young girls in front of their watching mothers, and rig explosives throughout the complex to ensure that when the authorities stormed the building there would be massive casualties. This horrific drama played out in the quiet Russian town of Beslan just five short years ago. In the end, 394 lay dead (over half of them children) with another 704 injured. And stunningly, Barack Obama has just invited the same carnage to our shores.

Here was my take on the next attack. Imagine this taking place during the trial, with demands that the 9/11 murderers be freed, as they kill kids.

It Don't Cost Nuthin' to be Nice
Nice, non-political article.

Uncle Jay explains the White House gate crashers
Great humor

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