Monday, January 4, 2010

Political Digest January 4, 2010

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.

New Decade
The media is celebrating the start of a “New Decade.” Last time I checked, a decade had ten years in it, so the last year should end in some multiple of ten (2010, 2020, etc.) just as a century has 100 years, so the last year of the century needs to end in “00.” Assuming the first year was the year “one” as implied in the word “first,” and not the year “zero,” of course. But if this is the only stupidity in the media this year, we should all be grateful.

I gave up years ago trying to convince people that folks who went to a conference should be called “attenders” not “attendees,” which implies the conference was brought to them. In most other constructions “ee” indicates the recipient of the action, not the one who acts “er,” though the “ee” usage is falling into disuse.

The Road to Serfdom
Just got around to this book (it was only published in 1944, give me time), thanks to the prodding of friends. Written by F. A. Hayek, an Austrian economist who had become a British citizen due to unpleasant conditions in his native land, it is ironically dedicated to “socialists (central planners) of all parties.” It reviews the socialist roots of National Socialism, and explores why central economic planning always results in the curtailment of civil liberties, as the planners are forced to use ever-increasing government coercion to carry out their planned economy. Also why the most ruthless men rise to the top of planned economies—they have to be to force the citizens to do what they—not the citizens—think is best, like buy health insurance. This book is an unheeded warning to the Fabian socialists now running our country, though it was directed at Britain at the time. Modern readers may be confused by Hayek’s championing of “liberalism,” if they are unaware that belief in the Rule of Law, individual rights, free markets and limited government with a separation of powers was considered to be the “liberal” philosophy in the 19th century, before a utopian belief in collectivism, statism and central planning at the expense of the individual came to be called “liberal” in the later 20th century. I recommend this book, with the caveat that it is written by an academic, thus requires focus. It’s not a “light read.”

The Lesson: Passengers Are Not Helpless,8599,1950576,00.html
Excerpt: And yet our collective response to this legacy of ass-kicking is puzzling. Each time, we build a slapdash pedestal for the heroes. Then we go back to blaming the government for failing to keep us safe, and the government goes back to treating us like children. This now familiar ritual distracts us from the real lesson, which is that we are not helpless. And since regular people will always be first on the scene of terrorist attacks, we should perhaps prioritize the public's antiterrorism capability — above and beyond the fancy technology that will never be foolproof. Instead, we hear this blather from President Obama: "The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season." He forgets that Americans have never really wanted the government to do "everything in its power" to keep us safe. That would make this a terrible place to live. And yet, after eight years of paternalistic bluster from President George W. Bush, we have grown accustomed to the cycle of absurd promises followed by failure and renewed by fear. Bush liked to say that the authorities have to succeed 100% of the time and terrorists only once. The truth is, authorities never succeed 100% of the time at anything. And they never will.

Wacky jihad therapy failed to 'cure' plane-bomb plotter
No wonder they hold us in contempt. Excerpt: A cushy Saudi Arabian "rehab" center where terrorists are encouraged to express themselves through crayon drawings, water sports and video games is under scrutiny after one of its graduates re-emerged as a leader in the al Qaeda branch claiming responsibility for trying to blow up an airliner on Christmas. Said Ali al Shihri -- a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who now heads the terror group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- obviously didn't get to the bottom of his America-hating issues while undergoing the controversial rehab for jihadists. This re-education didn’t transform ex-Gitmo inmate Said Ali al Shihri (inset) into an apostle of peace; he now leads Yemeni al Qaeda. Inmates like Shihri are supposed to while away the days playing ping-pong, PlayStation and soccer in hopes that the peaceful environment will help them cope with their jihadist rages. Bomb-makers and gunmen participate in art therapy to help them explore their feelings non-violently. In between tasty picnic-style meals of rice and lamb and snacks of Snickers along with dips in the pool, participants practice Arabic calligraphy, produce dizzying Jackson Pollack rip-offs and imagine the aftermath of car bombings in crayon. Some 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists have "graduated" from the program, including 108 former Guantanamo Bay detainees, the Washington Post reported. "The Saudis talk about a success rate of 80 to 90 percent, but when you look at what those numbers mean in reality, it all falls down. There is no criteria for evaluation," John Horgan, a Department of Homeland Security consultant, told the New York Post.

Plane attack renews debate over transfer of Gitmo detainees
Excerpt: The White House has signaled it would be "mindful" of changing security conditions in those states as it makes those key decisions, but the Obama administration made no commitment this weekend to stop the transfer of about 40 prisoners to Yemen this year, as part of its larger plan to shutter the Gitmo detention facility.

Counterterrorism adviser: 'No smoking gun' to have thwarted plot
Excerpt: President Barack Obama's lead counterterrorism adviser said Sunday that the "clearly the system didn't work" to stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding a plane, but contended that there was "no smoking gun piece of intelligence out there that said this guy was a terrorist" even though the suspect's father told American authorities of his son's radicalization.

Jihadist writings, Rocket launcher, Three Days in Jail in America--The System Works
Excerpt: We live in an age when a rumor, a false report, or an outright lie can travel around the world in minutes. But the truth, well that takes a bit longer and must overcome many obstacles. Remember the death of Rush Limbaugh on Christmas Day that had liberals popping corks before the truth caught up? Here’s a story that will probably disappear from sight due to the holiday weekend and to the incompetence of Homeland Security that is a model of political correctness. Police in Houston go to an apartment to break up a disturbance and find a rocket launcher! The landlady didn’t want to cooperate with the police but did tell them that the rocket launcher belonged to Nabilaye I. Yansane, someone whom she allowed to store items at her apartment. Now let’s not jump to conclusions just because Yansane has an Arabic name. BUT—-According to court documents, officers also found Jihadist writings that allegedly belonged to Yansane. KPRC TV reports that Yansane was charged with criminal trespassing and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to three days in jail, which he has already served. No charges related to the rocket launcher or writings were filed.

Whistleblowers punished for warning of aviation security lapses
Excerpt: They’ve been frantically trying to warn America for the past six years: Aviation security is a joke, and it’s only a matter of time before terrorists destroy another airplane full of innocent passengers. The close call in Detroit on Christmas Day has vindicated a group of highly experienced experts — including former airline pilots, federal air marshals and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors — who were fired or demoted for pointing out obvious flaws in the nation’s post-9/11 aviation security system to their chain of command. Even now, facing financial ruin after their careers were trashed and their families destroyed, courageous members of the Whistleblowing Airline Employees Association ( refuse to be silenced. Former United B-777 Captain Dan Hanley was forced out of the cockpit after filing federally mandated complaints in 2003 about the lack of federal air marshals and onboard cabin cameras aboard his high-risk London-to-New York flights. Six years later, there was still no federal air marshal aboard Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, even though both cities are well-known hotbeds of radical Islamic activity.

Cartoonist intruder: 'links to Islamic terrorists'
Gee, it wasn’t just another “isolated incident” about which we “shouldn’t jump to conclusions”? Excerpt: An intruder who was shot and wounded by police after breaking into the Denmark home of Muhammad cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has links to Islamic terrorists, according to Danish intelligence. The 28-year-old Somali man is connected to the radical Islamist al-Shabaab militia and al-Qaeda leaders in East Africa, claims Denmark’s PET intelligence service.

Murtha’s America
The swamp Nancy promised to drain. Excerpt: As 2009 drew to a close, the Office of Congressional Ethics ended its investigation of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and several other congressmen associated with PMA Group, a lobbying firm. The Office recommended against a full-fledged House ethics investigation. At issue? A pattern whereby Congressman Murtha, Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), and James Moran (D-Va.), earmarked hundreds of millions of tax dollars to clients of PMA Group and then, magically, millions of dollars in campaign contributions from PMA and its clients found their way to Murtha’s campaign account, and the campaigns of others involve... Murtha’s job creation racket doesn’t create many jobs. According to a Washington Post report, “For all the billions in federal contracts the congressman has steered to the region in the past ten years, now at a rate of $100 million a year, joblessness in his distressed district has not improved.”

Jitters in Massachusetts – surely a Republican cannot win?
Unlikely. Massachusetts has only 11% Republicans, and the government-employees union is working around the clock (having little to do in their real jobs). But if you want to support him Brown (I did), you can contribute here:
Excerpt: Marty Peretz of The New Republic fears that with an unpopular Democratic governor, fearful voters and guaranteed low turnout, Republican Scott Brown has a serious chance of winning the Jan. 19 special election for departed Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat. He wrote on Thursday: Brown compares himself to John Kennedy in a just-released television spot. Well, the Dems have gone hysterical. This is a sign of their (incipient) panic. Maybe their panic is apt.

Mark Tapscott: What is Barack Obama doing? UPDATED: Why Interpol, Mr. President?
I don’t know enough to understand this story. But why no coverage of it in the Leftstream Media until some conservatives wrote about it? Why the silent release. It worries me, because, frankly, I don’t trust this President to protect American rights. Excerpt: Some distressing civil liberties questions must be asked about an ever-lengthening list of decisions, proposals, and observations by President Obama. To begin, Obama is the first president to give an international law enforcement organization like Interpol free rein within the territorial confines of this nation, presumably not excluding the arrest and exportation of Americans to be charged with crimes under international law. Put simply, this means the Constitution is no longer the supreme law of the land in America. Thanks to Executive Order 12425 , which Obama signed Dec. 16 without explaining why, the supreme law of the land is now arguably whatever Interpol says it is, most likely as directed by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, in conjunction with the United Nations. Maybe it's just a bureaucratic snafu. Or perhaps Obama sincerely means to subsume U.S. law to what he views as a morally superior international body. But what if he simply sees it as an innocuous path to the arrest and prosecution of selected political opponents for "crimes against humanity" in, say, Iraq and Afghanistan? The Far Left would get its pound of Bush-Cheney flesh, while leaving minimal blood on Obama's hands and giving his defense and foreign policy critics reason to think twice before speaking candidly against him in the future.

Obama Executive Order Alters Your Legal Protections More on Interpol.
Excerpt: With the signing of an under-publicized amendment to Executive Order 12425, Barack Obama has fundamentally altered your constitutional rights. His actions are undermining your rights to protect personal privacy from a foreign internationalist police agency named Interpol. A one-paragraph executive order may seem inconsequential to many, but this action has far reaching implications and threatens the sovereignty of America. Obama’s secretive Executive Order amended an order issued by President Reagan in 1983. Reagan’s order recognized Interpol as an International Organization and gave it privileges and immunities commonly extended to foreign diplomats. Reagan opened the door to allow Interpol to operate in partnership with the U.S. but with significant constitutional safeguards. Specifically, Interpol’s property and assets remained subject to search and seizure by American law enforcement, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Interpol had to answer to the FBI and U.S. courts under Reagan’s order. These safeguards were stripped away by Obama’s action the week before Christmas without debate or explanation. Obama picked the holiday season to make this radical change to minimize media coverage.

Some foes of health-care bill hope courts will stop legislation
Excerpt: A small but vocal contingent of legal scholars and many Republican lawmakers argue that the measures passed by both chambers are unconstitutional and will be ruled so by the Supreme Court. Their primary target: the individual mandate, which requires people to get health insurance or pay a financial penalty of at least 2 percent of their income to the government. Although it would affect only those who do not get insurance from their employer, Medicare or Medicaid, the mandate is a central component of Democrats' reform plans, which operate under the assumption that bringing everyone into the national insurance pool -- particularly young, healthy people who do not have coverage -- will reduce premiums across the board. By adding millions of new customers, the mandate is also designed to make reform more palatable for insurance companies, which will face new restrictions and requirements.

U.S.-China relations to face strains, experts say
Excerpt: The United States and China are headed for a rough patch in the early months of the new year as the White House appears set to sell a package of weapons to Taiwan and as President Obama plans to meet the Dalai Lama, U.S. officials and analysts said. The Obama administration is expected to approve the sale of several billion dollars in Black Hawk helicopters and anti-missile batteries to Taiwan early this year, possibly accompanied by a plan gauging design and manufacturing capacity for diesel-powered submarines for the island, which China claims as its territory. The president is also preparing to meet the spiritual leader of Tibet, who is considered a separatist by Beijing. Obama made headlines last year when the White House, in an effort to generate goodwill from China, declined to meet the Dalai Lama, marking the first time in more than a decade that a U.S. president did not meet the religious leader during his occasional visits to Washington.

Britain facing one of the coldest winters in 100 years, experts predict
I hear they are burning old e-mails and unused temp records to keep warm. Excerpt: Britain is bracing itself for one of the coldest winters for a century with temperatures hitting minus 16 degrees Celsius [3ºF.], forecasters have warned.

Did The Obama Administration Violate An Executive Order By Releasing Qais Qazali?
Excerpt: Did the Obama administration, by releasing Qais and Laith Qazali and more than 100 members of the Iranian-backed Asaib al Haq, violate an executive order put in place by President Ronald Reagan to prevent negotiations with hostage takers? Senators Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl asked that very question to the Obama administration in a letter sent to the president in July. The full text of the letter is below, or you can read the signed letter here in PDF form. According to a congressional staffer, the Obama administration has yet to answer the letter.

The United States of Insanity
Charlie Daniels speaks out.

Raise Your Flag-Official Music Video
Great patriotic song.

Frogger Gate
Another amusing use of the Hitler clip. Apparently some leftie bloggers jumped all over Beck for “killing” what turned out to be a rubber frog.

New Years Resolution
Do not keep the toothpaste tube next to the hemorrhoid ointment tube on the sink.

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