Friday, January 8, 2010

Political digest January 8, 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.

With profiling again in the news, I posted this column I published in 2002, eight months after 9/11. Unfortunately, several attacks and deaths later, it’s still timely.

Kill them before they kill us!
If they are enemy combatants—soldiers is too good a word for them—we can kill them or capture them, as we did with Nazi’s in WWII, when we had a Democrat president who understood we were at war. If they are merely “potential criminals,” we must wait until they do something wrong, arrest them if we can, read them their rights under the constitution, provide them with lawyers, and keep them in jails with TVs and other amenities. Excerpt: After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, al Qaeda brazenly declared its goal of building an Islamic empire that would wipe out the “infidels” (read this as you and me). Since then, there have been at least 29 foiled terror plots against the United States. The terrorists intend to destroy us. They will strike again. They have told us so — most recently with the botched attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate an explosive device aboard a Northwest Airlines flight.The most shocking thing about this isn’t that we’re being attacked — again, the terrorists plainly declared their desire to do so — but that we’re not doing more about it. A CIA counterterrorism expert told me the other day that “the agency” knows where most terrorist cells are located in the United States. But their hands are tied until the cells actually move into action. Obviously, this is not the way to go, explained the analyst. The only effective way to combat terrorism is to root it out before it even starts. That means taking advantage of the modern intelligence that we have and assassinating known members of domestic terrorist cells before — not after — they “go hot.” (Then again, maybe they’ll do it for us. See next post.)

14 terror suspects mistakenly kill themselves
Just when things look bad, along comes a story to put a smile on your face. Guess no virgins for these guys. Excerpt: Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Fourteen suspected terrorists died Tuesday night when the bus they rigged with explosives blew up prematurely, police said.

Krauthammer Is Right on Terror
Another liberal democrat and Obama supporter sees the light. Excerpt: When the choices for President were presented in 2008, the candidates being Barack Obama and John McCain, I chose to support Barack Obama, who called me on the telephone to say that if I had any questions on his positions on different issues, he was ready to answer them…. From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to downplay and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. Napolitano renames terrorism "man-caused disasters." Obama goes abroad and pledges to cleanse America of its post-9/11 counterterrorist sins. Hence, Guantanamo will close. CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York — a trifecta of political correctness and image management."

Jihadism in 2010: The Threat Continues
Excerpt: We also believe that, due to the open nature of the U.S. and European societies and the ease of conducting attacks against them, we will see more grassroots plots, if not successful attacks, in the United States and Europe in the coming year. The concept behind AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi’s article calling for jihadists to conduct simple attacks against a variety of targets may be gaining popularity among grassroots jihadists. Certainly, the above-mentioned attack in Denmark involving an axe and knife was simple in nature. It could also have been deadly had the cartoonist not had a panic room within his residence. We will be watching for more simple attacks. As far as targets, we believe that they will remain largely the same for 2010. Soft targets such as hotels will continue to be popular, since most jihadists lack the ability to attack hard targets outside of conflict zones. However, jihadists have demonstrated a continuing fixation on attacking commercial aviation targets, and we can anticipate additional plots and attacks focusing on aircraft.

Our Unconfident Civilization
Excerpt: On the same day as Mr. Stephens' article (01/04/10), Der Spiegel ran an editorial bemoaning the lack of Western outrage at recent Moslem attacks on Danish cartoonists who caricatured Mohammed. It was entitled, "The West Is Choked by Fear." But fear of what? Whatever that fear is of, it is the cause of our collapse of civilizational confidence. Please allow me to identify it. It is the fear of envy. All three of the great barbarisms of modern times have been pathologies of envy. Nazism, preaching race-envy toward "rich exploitative Jews"; Communism preaching class-envy toward "rich exploitative capitalists"; Moslem Terrorism preaching culture-envy toward "rich exploitative America/the West." And just as it is envy which makes a Nazi, Communist, or Moslem Terrorist, it is the fear of being envied which makes a Liberal.

P.C. undermines our military
“Undermines”? “Kills” is the right word. Excerpt: Political correctness has undermined the military for years. Recently things have turned for the worse. Under the Obama administration's pursuit of a "new era of engagement" with America's enemies, it has gained more prominence. That is reflected in the December tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas, by the failure to cashier Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan out of the U.S. Army. His military associates and commanding officers had to have known for years of his openly acknowledged sympathy for fanatical jihadism yet evidently did nothing out of fear of being labeled anti-Muslim and/or accused of racial profiling. Such charges in today's military can have a career-ending impact. There is no question Maj. Hasan should have been court-martialed based on the previous known fact that he was communicating with the enemy, the Yemen-based radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on jihadism. This failure resulted in 14 Americans (including an unborn child) losing their lives in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. Military commanders who had oversight responsibilities for Maj. Hasan must be held accountable. Then there's the case of the three elite U.S. Navy SEALs from SEAL Team 10 who face criminal charges after capturing one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq, Ahmed Hashim Abed. This man was credited with the murder and mutilations of four American security guards in Fallujah. Their bodies were burned and dragged through the city, then two of the bodies were hung from a bridge. The charges against the SEALs are based on an accusation that the terrorist was punched in the stomach and had a "bloody lip." When you consider that the Defense Department is well aware of the al Qaeda training manual that provides guidance to its terrorists that if "they are captured, they should claim they were tortured and/or mal-treated," the absurdity is obvious. The best-selling book "Lone Survivor" by Marcus Luttrell (Little, Brown & Co., 2007) describes the dilemma facing four SEALs (also from SEAL Team 10) deployed on an Afghan mountaintop to kill or capture Ahmad Shah, a Taliban leader who was close to Osama bin Laden. Unfortunately, "Murphy's Law" came into play as three Afghan goatherders stumbled on their hiding spot. The politically correct rules of engagement (ROEs) caused the SEALs to let them go, instead of killing them. Within an hour the goatherders betrayed their position to the Taliban and the SEALs suffered their greatest loss. Three of the SEALs were killed and one barely survived after being blown off a cliff by a rocket-propelled grenade.

After attempted airline bombing, effectiveness of intelligence reforms questioned
Duh. But things will be different when the bureaucrats take over healthcare. Promise.

U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan kill Taliban militants
Wait, wait. The “War on Terror” is over. This is a law enforcement problem, remember? Are the cops now shooting first at suspects? What about their Miranda rights? Where are their lawyers? Excerpt: Back-to-back missile strikes on a training camp in Pakistan's lawless tribal region killed at least 13 militants Wednesday, the latest in a string of apparent U.S. attacks on Taliban targets in the wake of last week's suicide bombing at a CIA base in Afghanistan, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. Pakistani sources said both missiles were fired by what appeared to be remote-controlled drone aircraft. The CIA has staged more than 50 such strikes in the past year in Pakistan's autonomous tribal belt, long a sanctuary to Taliban militants and, U.S. officials believe, al-Qaeda's top leadership. Wednesday's attacks brought to five the number of strikes against Taliban targets since Dec. 30, when a suicide bomber killed eight U.S. and allied intelligence operatives at the CIA's Forward Operating Base Chapman in eastern Afghanistan.

In Pakistani port city of Karachi, a new resolve to turn against Taliban
The bearded clerics who run Jamia Binoria, a large seminary in a shabby industrial zone, might seem to have much in common with the Taliban. They come from the same Deobandi strain of Islam, which rejects Western values and seeks to create a pure Islamic state. They require students to memorize the Koran and live an austere, regimented life. But the leaders of Jamia Binoria insist that they want nothing to do with the Taliban and regard its members as barbaric extremists. They say the recent surge in Taliban suicide bombings across the country have only complicated their lives, leading Pakistani and Western officials to brand seminaries such as theirs as potential terrorist schools and making it harder for them to chart a course between modern education and traditional faith. "They say we all teach Kalashnikov culture, but that is a wrong image," said Mufti Muhammad Naeem, the seminary director, who expressed pride in its new computer lab and its large number of female students. "The hard-liners accuse me of being a front for American interests, and the Americans harass me at the airport," he said. "We reject Talibanization and we want to be a model for the future, but we get pressure from all sides."

What Does the Detroit Bomber Know?
Excerpt: much to celebrate in the providential combination of an incompetent terrorist and surpassingly brave passengers and crew who saved 288 people aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day. There is a lot less to applaud in the official reaction. Well-deserved mockery has already been heaped on the move-along-folks-nothing-to-see-here tone of the administration's initial pronouncements—from Janet Napolitano's "the system worked," to President Obama's statement that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an "isolated extremist." This week brought little improvement. The president acknowledged that the plot had been hatched in Yemen, but not without adding the misleading statement that Yemen faces "crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies." That Yemenis have to cope with "crushing poverty" is irrelevant here. Abdulmutallab is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker. Other jihadists, including the physician who blew himself up and killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan last week, and indeed the millionaire Osama bin Laden, prove that poverty does not beget terrorists. "Deadly insurgencies" is a half-truth, which omits the fact that the Yemeni government itself has supported al Qaeda and continues to harbor at least two people—Jamal Ahmed Mohammed Ali al-Badawi and Fahad Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso—involved in the bombing of the USS Cole.

Pressure on Barack Obama to reveal what Britain said about Detroit bomber
Excerpt: Barack Obama is under pressure to disclose what information MI5 passed to the American authorities about the Detroit bomber after Downing Street disclosed that a file had been "shared" with the CIA in 2008.

Suicide attack on CIA agents 'was planned by bin Laden inner circle'
Excerpt: US intelligence officials believe that the suicide bomb attack that killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan last month was planned with the help of Osama bin Laden’s close allies, raising fears that the al-Qaeda leader is enjoying a lethal resurgence. They think that the attack could not have taken place without the prior knowledge and assistance of the Haqqanis, the powerful Taleban group thought to be shielding bin Laden. The attack was carried out by a Jordanian doctor whom the CIA believed was about to divulge the whereabouts of bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al- Zawahiri. It is one of the deadliest blows against the CIA and has increased tensions between the US and Pakistan because of Islamabad’s repeated failure to target the Haqqanis.

Washington, DC imam: US Govt, Mossad staged Flight 253 Christmas Day bombing
Bush is still at it, attacking America and blaming innocent Muslims.

Five police killed in southern Russia suicide attack
Didn’t get the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace memo. Unless they were Presbyterians? Excerpt: Five police were killed and more than 10 others wounded in a suicide bombing Wednesday in Russia's restive North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, Interfax news agency reported. "The information available to us suggests that five police officers plus the suicide attacker were killed. Fourteen people, including 10 policemen, were injured," Intefax quoted a regional interior ministry spokesman as saying. A spokesman for the republic's emergency medical center confirmed the death of six people in the blast, but said that 19 injured were being treated in local hospitals.

Guantanamo Prisoners: We want to stay in Guantanamo
Must have heard we are getting 6-10 inches of Global Warming right now. Excerpt: Buried in a blog item by Newsweek's ace reporter Michael Isikoff is a bombshell. Appararently lawyers for Guantanamo detainees want to keep their clients in Guantanamo, rather than transfer them to the Obama administration's proposed new prison in Illinois: “But the final irony is that many of the detainees may not even want to be transferred to Thomson and could conceivably even raise their own legal roadblocks to allow them to stay at Gitmo.”

9/11 Commissioner: Congress shares blame for intelligence failures
Excerpt: Poor congressional oversight contributed to failures in the national intelligence community, the 9/11 Commission vice-chairman said Thursday. (Maybe if they got earmarks for paying attention?)

Countries to be allowed a say in foreign aid usage
What, they weren’t looting us efficiently already? Excerpt: The Obama administration will share control over U.S. foreign aid with recipient countries, ending Washington's longtime policy of "dictating" to those nations how to spend the money, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday. The administration also will move toward an investment-based approach to rewarding aid, with rigorous political and economic criteria, she said. "We are adopting a model of development based on partnership, not patronage," Mrs. Clinton said in a speech at a Washington think tank. "In the past, we have sometimes dictated solutions from afar, often missing our mark on the ground. Our new approach is to work in partnership with the people in developing countries."

Important: Statist or Constitutionalist: Which type of government do you want?
This is the heart of the division in America. Unfortunately, all those in line for government largess are statist voters, maybe now a permanent majority—until the collapse. Excerpt: Do we want statist or a constitutionalist government? That is the question that confronts American politics today. What is the difference between them? A constitutionalist wants the limited government that lives by the checks and balances in our Constitution. A statist believes that our Constitution is a "living document" and it can be used to justify the creation of any government program imaginable. Here is an explanation of how we now have a statist government and how we can bring back the constitutional government we once had. A statist's hero is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A constitutionalist's hero is James Madison. Both men were presidents of the United States. One wrote most of our Constitution. The other threw it away. How did FDR throw away our Constitution? He did so when he changed the meaning, the understanding of an important phrase in our Constitution. This phrase can be found twice in our Constitution. The first time is in the preamble but the most important timeis in Article I Section 8 of our Constitution. It is in Article I Section 8 that the enumerated powers of our government are found. What are those two words? They are the words "general Welfare." FDR with the creation of the New Deal changed the meaning of the "general Welfare" from what James Madison meant to what FDR wanted them to mean. When FDR did that, he threw our Constitution away. Here is what Madison had to say about what the phrase general welfare means when he wrote Article I Section 8 of our Constitution:

Rahm in the mayor's race would be quite a fish tale,0,5245259.column
Excerpt: The Washington establishment also ignores how Rahm got elected to Congress in 2002 from Illinois' 5th District. The district's Democratic state central committeeman, DeLeo, had something to do with it. So did all those illegal City Hall patronage workers swarming the precincts, led by Donny Drama, currently in federal stir for the nasty habit of taking bribes. Yet as if by tacit agreement, Rahm's Chicago back story doesn't make national news. But neither did the mayor's reaction when Rahm was made chief of staff of the Chicago Way. "It's a gain," Daley said last year. "It's a real gain, gain, gain."

Dodd, Dorgan and Ritter to retire as Democrats face difficult midterm election year
Excerpt: Democrats have long known that 2010 would be a difficult year politically, but the decision by embattled Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) not to seek reelection, along with similar announcements by another longtime senator and a once-rising star among Western governors, brought home that reality with unexpected intensity Wednesday.

The Fix: Democrats lose majority support in Gallup polling
Excerpt: 1. Democratic strategists, already worried about the recent spate of retirements within their ranks, got more bad news late Wednesday with the release of a year-long compendium of Gallup polling data that showed a majority of Americans no longer identify themselves as Democrats. For the entirety of 2009, 49 percent of Gallup's sample -- more than 21,000 interviews -- said they either were Democrats or leaned toward Democrats in their political views, the first time since 2005 that the party does not have a majority share of support. (The Democratic high point this decade came in 2008 when 51.5 percent of those polled identified with the party.) More problematic for Democrats is the trend line of the numbers last year; in the first three months of 2009, the party's support stood at nearly 52 percent while in the final quarter of the year it had fallen to 47 percent. "The gains the Democratic Party made in public support during the last several years of the George W. Bush administration have disappeared," concluded Gallup pollster Jeffrey Jones. While fewer people are identifying themselves as Democrats as the dawn of 2010, not all the news is bad as Republicans still lag behind in the race for support. In 2009, just under 41 percent (40.7) called themselves Republican, a far cry from 2004 when that number stood at 45 percent. Still, the decline in Democratic identifiers speaks to the fact that many independents -- particularly those with Republican leanings -- that sided with Democrats in 2006 and 2008 are no longer doing so. That trend among independents, born out in the governors races in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009, is a major potential trouble spot for Democrats looking to minimize their losses in this year's midterm election.

How interest groups behind health-care legislation are financed is often unclear
Excerpt: Health Care for America Now, for example, is a consortium of unions and liberal groups that expects to spend $42 million on its wide-ranging pro-reform campaign…. The Partnership to Improve Patient Care, for example, headed by former congressman Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), was formed by the drug industry in November 2008 to lobby against binding government effectiveness studies, which could be used to determine what insurance companies must cover. The American Council on Science and Health is an industry-friendly group whose board member Betsy McCaughey helped set off the "death panels" frenzy last year.

Time for sit-down protests by Hill reporters
Excerpt: For decades, among the first thing cub reporters learned when covering local government was that the words "executive session" meant public officials were going behind closed doors to conduct business they wanted to keep out of the public eye. More often than not, the journalists barred from the meeting passed influential developers and other special interest lobbyists on their way in to confer with the decision makers. Thanks to public meetings laws requiring city councils, county boards of supervisors, and other local and state officials to meet and vote in public, it's much tougher for them to hold such clandestine gatherings. Judging by the silence of the hundreds of professional journalists covering Congress for the mainstream media, however, it appears this lesson from Covering Government 101 has been forgotten. President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- all of whom have in recent years promised unprecedented levels of transparency in government -- are flouting their own words by meeting in secret to write the final version of Obamacare. They are doing this to avoid the public meetings of a bipartisan conference committee representing the Senate and House and the multiple, on-the-record roll call votes required in both chambers on a conference committee report. The most radical expansion of central government power in American history is happening right under these journalists' noses, and yet they raise not a peep of protest when the doors close, effectively barring them from doing their jobs at a critical juncture. Where are the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and the Radio and Television News Directors Association? These august organizations vigorously and rightfully protested former Vice President Richard Cheney's secret meetings with oil company executives in the early days of the Bush administration. They also wailed loud and long about the Bush administration's abuses, many real and some imagined, of the Freedom of Information Act.

Webb and Warner owe Virginia an apology
I’m disappointed in Webb, a genuine Marine hero in Vietnam, who has acted independently in the past. Excerpt: Two weeks ago, while most Virginians prepared to celebrate Christmas with family and friends, Virginia's two senators quietly broke faith with the commonwealth, voting for the Obama health care bill. In addition to adding an estimated 261,927 people to Virginia's Medicaid rolls, Sens. James Webb and Mark Warner "charitably" committed Virginians to pick up the Medicaid tab for half-a-dozen other states. Medicaid already is so expensive that it threatens to bust the bank in Virginia. We commit one-sixth of the state budget to Medicaid - $7 billion a year. Now Virginia's two senators hope to impose on their own state a federally mandated increase in Medicaid enrollment of nearly 30 percent. Skilled politicians that they are, Messrs. Webb and Warner hedged, of course: They expressed a few doubts, uttered a few platitudes about cost-cutting, and touted their "independence" and credentials as mavericks. But at the end of the day, they were right there with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, burdening Virginia with new costs we can only begin to fathom. Mr. Webb, in particular, had the tough talk down pat - insisting that true reform must not create "a cumbersome, overly bureaucratic system." He pledged that his vote would be contingent on eliminating proposed Medicaid cuts, excluding abortion coverage, and ensuring fair and equal treatment. His statements were refreshing - and ultimately meaningless. Mr. Webb's Democratic colleagues ignored his objections, and he dutifully and passively submitted, voting for precisely the kind of bill he said he would reject.

21.1 Million Reasons Big Labor Pours Money into ObamaCare
The bosses of Service Employee International Union (SEIU) and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME), Andy Stern and Gerald McEntee, know that ObamaCare will hurt the very workers that they claim to represent. But, it appears that they just don’t care! These two union bosses who stand to gain the most power under ObamaCare are spending hundreds of millions of forced union dues promoting ObamaCare. A government run health insurance program is an SEIU and AFSCME “membership net” designed to eventually complete the capture of 21.1 million forced-dues paying government workers. It is clear that Big Labor is banking on the probability that all healthcare workers eventually become federal, state, and municipal healthcare employees.

The C-Span Lie?
See Eight Clips of Obama Promising Televised Healthcare Negotiations
Okay, you can only be outraged if you believed him in the first place.

The CO2 Lie
Excerpt: Climate Change: A new study shows that Earth's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from all sources, including man, has remained unchanged for 160 years. As it turns out, there may be no carbon to offset. A major tenet of the global warming religion, straight from the Book of Gore, has been that the ability of the earth to handle increasing CO2 emissions is finite and that once the "tipping point" is reached, the earth will warm uncontrollably. Well, another climate domino has fallen — the myth that man-made CO2 is leading to climate catastrophe. This "settled science" has been upended by an unsettling (for warm-mongers) new study out of the University of Bristol in England. Unlike the Climate-gate charlatans at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Wolfgang Knorr of Bristol's Earth Sciences Department followed the data where it led instead of trying to manipulate it to "hide the decline" in global temperatures the earth has experienced in the last decade.

Republicans put new hold on TSA nominee Erroll Southers
Excerpt: The letter and Coburn's hold follow a report in The Washington Post last week that detailed how Southers provided differing accounts to the Senate about incidents in 1987 and 1988 in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, in a search for records about his estranged wife's boyfriend.

What the Dems Know: Universal Voter Registration
Excerpt: Many are puzzled that Democrats persist in ramming unpopular and destructive legislation down our collective throats with no apparent concern for their plummeting poll numbers. A widespread belief is that the Democrats are committing political suicide and will be swept from one or both houses of Congress with unprecedented electoral losses next November. But since Democrat politicians rarely do things that will not ultimately benefit themselves, this column asked two weeks ago, "What do they know that we don't?" We may have found out. It's called universal voter registration. The Wall Street Journal's John Fund described the Democrat plan recently at a David Horowitz Freedom Center forum. Watch the video here.

Stealth Legislation Coming in January, Universal Voter Legislation
Excerpt: This legislation would involve the Federal government taking over from the state, the criteria used to register voters. Every individual from every list the state possesses would automatically be placed on the voter rolls. Now you may not think this problematic, yet the potential corruption in legislation like this could be MASSIVE. If you thought Acorn was bad, just wait as those unconcerned, apathetic voters who have never voted suddenly through ghost votes find a voice. Ghost votes that they never knew they cast, that were easily manipulated by corrupt forces in either party. Currently less than 40% of eligible voters vote in major elections, which leaves a potential for 60% voter fraud.

Britain's Labor Party shaken by challenge to Gordon Brown
LONDON -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday sought to fend off a surprise challenge to his leadership from within his own ranks, a blow to him and his ruling Labor Party just months before general elections. The revolt marked Brown's toughest challenge since the summer, when a flurry of senior cabinet officials abandoned him and rumors swirled that he would be forced to step aside. The man viewed as Washington's closest ally in Europe survived that confrontation, and Brown supporters took heart in signs that the call for a vote on his leadership by two senior Labor lawmakers appeared to be gaining only limited traction.

Grassley seeks accounting of 'Cash for Clunkers' costs
Excerpt: A top Senate Republican has asked for a full accounting of the "Cash for Clunkers" incentive program as the Department of Transportation puts the finishing touches on last summer's economic boost to the struggling auto industry. A report submitted to Congress in late December said the department has spent $77 million on administrative costs to run the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act, commonly known as CARS or by the Clunkers meme. The popular program provided up to $4,500 to customers trading in older vehicles. Congress added an additional $2 billion to the program last summer amid unexpectedly high demand. The department anticipates spending no more than $100 million as it ties up the final details, according to agency sources.

Free Trade Leaps In Year Of Tiger
While the Fabia socialist in the White House leaves us mired in the past. Excerpt: As the U.S. dithers, East Asia has moved forward on market liberalization with a vengeance, creating the biggest free trade zones seen in years. The train is pulling out of the station, and America isn't on board. Largely ignored over the weekend, Jan. 1 signaled the arrival of the world's third-biggest free trade area. China and Asia's Tigers — the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — scrapped 7,000 different tariffs to form a $200 billion open market for about 2 billion consumers, one-third of the world's population. That's not the half of it. Jan. 1 also heralded another ASEAN free-trade pact with mighty India, ending tariffs on 4,000 products staggered through 2016. This deal will expand a $50 billion market for 1.5 billion consumers into something even bigger. ASEAN also signed off on free trade with Australia and New Zealand, tacking on another $50 billion market to expand for their 600 million consumers. It follows ASEAN's Dec. 1 agreement with Japan, which created a $240 billion market for 670 million. In addition, Thailand and South Korea completed the last step of 2007's ASEAN-Korea pact, finalizing expansion of the zone to a $72 billion market for 600 million.

Why Taxing Stock Trades Is a Really Bad Idea
Anything to inhibit the free market. Excerpt: But you'd never know it from the angry anticapitalist rhetoric of the tax's proponents. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.), who introduced the House bill establishing the tax—positions it as retribution for "the Bush administration's cowboy capitalism, markets know best, deregulation at all cost policies." Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa), who introduced a similar Senate bill, says, "We need a shift in priorities in this country to ask not what America can do for Wall Street, but ask what Wall Street can do for America." Are you just an ordinary American who trades stocks? You probably don't think of yourself as having much to do with "Wall Street," or of your trading as a vice that ought to be singled out for a special tax. And you surely don't think of yourself as someone who caused the recent financial crisis, which was, as Rep. DeFazio says, "brought on by reckless speculation in the financial markets." If anything, you probably think of yourself as a casualty of the crisis, not its cause. Why should a stock market investor like you—or for that matter, even an investor literally on Wall Street—pay a tax as punishment for a crime of which you were the victim, not the perpetrator? The crisis was caused by excesses in the mortgage industry, led by government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. How did stock transactions—or transactions in options or futures—have anything to do with this crisis?

Playing Favorites
Senate Bill 323 Hands Out Lucrative Favors on Prime Real Estate
If Republicans play the same games as Democrats, they can’t—and shouldn’t—win. Excerpt: In studies and blog posts, this author and others have argued that state "jobs" programs are really political development programs used by term limited legislators to advance their own political careerism by handing out special tax favors and subsidies to select corporate "winners," all under the guise of "economic development." Consider Senate Bill 323, sponsored by state Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy. This would authorize special tax favors for any "major redevelopment project" spending at least $50 million for construction on a parking garage of several levels where the developer promises at least 300 new and permanent jobs. Yep, any project at all fitting this description gets the bennies: No special favors here, no sir. Except, only one such current project does fit that description to our knowledge and it happens to be in the district of the politician who introduced the bill.

Suspect in deputy's murder deported multiple times
Excerpt: We're learning even more about the man accused of shooting and killing a Millard County sheriff's deputy Tuesday. In addition to numerous drug convictions, Roberto Roman's background also includes the fact that he was deported from the United States in 1998. Roman legally entered the United States in 1990, only to be deported eight years later following felony drug convictions. Since then, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says Roman has been arrested twice for illegally re-entering the United States and federally prosecuted once for the same offense. Still, Roman didn't seem to be hiding. A simple search netted his MySpace page, which had numerous photos of Roman holding guns. His location was listed as Delta, Utah.

College Football Very Taxing
But the fans love it and fans vote, so the politicians pass the buck to—or rather take the buck from—the taxpayers. Excerpt: For starters, many bowls receive generous taxpayer subsidies. According to Mark Yost, author of Varsity Green, seven bowls received more than $21.6 million in government aid between 2001 and 2005. And the majority of bowls are tax-exempt, supposedly because they're good for local tourism. That bowl executives often make big money and corporate sponsors get prominent advertising is apparently irrelevant. Then, while playing in a bowl comes with a minimum payout of $750,000 for participating schools, many institutions end up spending much more than that to participate -- losses that taxpayers bear.

The Bailout Bowl
Neal McCluskey wrote an op-ed on the ways that taxpayers subsidize college football bowl games. As a college football fan, it pains me that I can’t even get a respite from big government on game day. This Wednesday’s matchup between Central Michigan and Troy will be particularly insulting to taxpayers because it’s the annual GMAC Bowl. GMAC, the former in-house financing arm of General Motors, has been sponsoring the bowl game since 2000, when it paid $500,000 for the right. More recently, the firm was battered by the collapse of GM and the housing market, and it was allowed to restructure as a bank holding company, which made it eligible for TARP bailout funds. The federal government has given GMAC $12.5 billion in return for 35.4 percent ownership stake in the company. However, the bailout just got larger.

Perceptive Blogger
Lists my “I’m Tired” post under “Elite thoughts/Elite thinkers.”

USAF Air Rescue, Afghanistan
Great pictures.

White House budget director ditched pregnant girlfriend for ABC News gal
Well, she won’t need welfare. Excerpt: President Obama’s budget guru has a secret love child — with the woman he jilted before hooking up with his hot new fiance, The Post has learned. White House budget director Peter Orszag’s ex, shipping heiress Claire Milonas, gave birth to little Tatiana Zoe in New York Nov. 17. That was just six weeks before Orzsag and ABC news babe Bianna Golodryga gleefully announced their engagement on national TV and in the press. Orszag and Milonas, the daughter of New York-based Greek shipping magnate Spiros Milonas, were a serious item when he met the stunning Golodgryga at the White House correspondents.

Celebrities and athletes offer a poor example on guns and violence
Excerpt: The recent headlines were chilling: NBA players allegedly brandishing guns in the Verizon Center locker room. Gang and youth violence plagues U.S. cities, and people constantly ask: What are young Americans thinking? Well, when we look at today's athletic and entertainment stars, we begin to see the answer. Maybe young Americans are thinking like their role models: athletes or actors who, fairly or unfairly, have become the billboards of violent and destructive behavior. (Blaming everything on race, creating a victim-mentality, and celebrating a culture that denigrates education and elevates abandoning kids by fathers doesn’t help either, reverend!)

Obama Twitter account crosses 3 million follower mark
3M twits getting tweets from the Twit-in-Chief, probably while driving. Bet they all have secret decoder rings as well, to get important messages. Excerpt: Obama's account, which is operated by the Democratic National Committee, is the fourth-most followed Twitter trailing actor Ashton Kutcher's, singer Britney Spears' and comedian Ellen DeGeneres'.

Full Body Scans to Double as Annual Checkups
For the humor-impaired, this is satire. Excerpt: WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) In what some in the White House are calling a "win/win" solution to the nation's airport security and health care reform problems, starting next month U.S. airports will begin conducting full body scans that will double as annual physical checkups. President Obama announced the breakthrough solution, telling reporters, "With this all-purpose exam, we will be able to find everything from a hidden weapon to a spot on your lung." After scanning a passenger, Mr. Obama said, "We will either give you a clean bill of health or wrestle you to the ground." The President added that instituting the body scan/checkup could ward off some terrorists right from the start, "because a lot of them will balk at the $25 co-pay." But according to Davis Logsdon, who studies terrorism and health care reform at the University of Minnesota, the body scans may attract more terrorists than they deter: "If there's one complaint that terrorists have about al-Qaeda it's that they have lousy benefits."

"I take exception to saying that Bernanke, Obama, Reid and Pelosi are spending like drunken sailors When I was a drunken sailor, I quit spending when I ran out of money." ~former Sailor (Sent to me by a Marine correspondent.)


  1. Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.

  2. Influence can be defined as the power exerted over the minds and behavior of others. A power that can affect, persuade and cause changes to someone or something. In order to influence people, you first need to discover what is already influencing them. What makes them tick? What do they care about? We need some leverage to work with when we’re trying to change how people think and behave.