Monday, February 1, 2010

Political Digest February 1, 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.

White House still wants terror suspects tried in New York federal court
President Wobbly dithering again. Can you get a fair trial if the president and his mouthpiece are announcing on TV that you are guilty and going to be executed? Excerpt: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that the despite reports of mulling new locations to try 9/11 terrorism suspects, the administration still very much wants Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in the Big Apple. "He's going to meet justice," Gibbs said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning. "He's going to meet his maker. He's likely to be executed" for the "heinous" crimes of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Mohammed has claimed he was the al-Qaeda mastermind behind the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Israel ‘poisoned Hamas leader’
Some cherry news. Excerpt: A HIT squad that killed a top Hamas commander in his Dubai hotel room injected him with a drug that induced a heart attack, photographed all the documents in his briefcase and left a “do not disturb” sign on the door. The body of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, 50, was discovered by staff at the luxury Al Bustan Rotana hotel after lunch on January 20. There were no suspicious signs and local doctors diagnosed a heart attack. Nine days later, after blood samples sent to Paris for analysis showed signs of poison, Hamas announced his death and blamed Mossad, the Israeli overseas intelligence service, for the assassination.

The Jihadist Next Door
Excerpt: A decade later, Hammami has fulfilled that promise in the most unimaginable way. Some 8,500 miles from Alabama, on the eastern edge of Africa, he has become a key figure in one of the world’s most ruthless Islamist insurgencies. That guerrilla army, known as the Shabab, is fighting to overthrow the fragile American-backed Somali government. The rebels are known for beheading political enemies, chopping off the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery. With help from Al Qaeda, they have managed to turn Somalia into an ever more popular destination for jihadis from around the world. More than 20 of those fighters have come from the United States, many of them young Somali-Americans from a gritty part of Minneapolis. But it is Hammami who has put a contemporary face on the Shabab’s medieval tactics. In a recent propaganda video viewed by thousands on YouTube, he is shown leading a platoon of gun-toting rebels as a soundtrack of jihadi rap plays in the background.

Republicans hope for another Senate victory, this time in Obama's Illinois
Excerpt: CHICAGO -- Not a good week for the Democrats here trying to hang on to President Obama's old Senate seat. The party's leading contender -- state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias -- has spent these last precious days before Tuesday's primary scrambling to explain why regulators have targeted his struggling family bank for greater oversight. Giannoulias, once a senior lending officer at Broadway Bank, is being pressed relentlessly by his Democratic rivals and the media about his role in the bank's woes. Republicans promise that it is not a topic that will go away. The Senate race in the president's home state will be among the most symbolically important and expensive races in the country this year. After Republican Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts this month, the GOP sees a clear path to victory in this Democratic state -- and his name is Mark Kirk.

America Didn't Buy It
Excerpt: Few are as good at delivering a high-stakes speech as President Obama, something he proved again in Wednesday's State of the Union. The speech, which focused on jobs and the economy, was feisty, confident and -- rare for presidential addresses -- funny. The insta-poll numbers were great. Joe Klein called it "Obama at his best." It was so good, in fact, that virtually nobody noticed that Obama had already lost the argument. The tell came a few days before, when the White House proposed a -- deep breath here -- non-security discretionary spending freeze. The inelegantly titled policy halts spending growth in a category that accounts for 13 percent of the federal budget. From the perspective of long-term deficits, that spending -- much less its growth over three years -- is insignificant. A spending freeze might be what Americans envision when they think about deficit reduction. The only problem is, it won't do much to reduce the deficit. As the Economist pointed out, "Mr. Obama has apparently concluded that the electorate can't be expected to handle anything like a real description of the tough decisions which must be made."

Report: TARP benefits have fallen far short
Excerpt: The $700 billion bailout program for the financial industry has so far done little to boost bank lending, aid small businesses or reduce home foreclosures, a top government watchdog said in a report. Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general over the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), said in a report that while the bailout has helped stabilize the financial system, many of the program's original goals have not been met. "Lending continues to decrease, month after month, and the TARP program designed specifically to address small-business lending — announced in March 2009 — has still not been implemented by Treasury," Barofsky wrote in the report. "The TARP foreclosure prevention program has only permanently modified a small fraction of eligible mortgages, and unemployment is the highest it has been in a generation." The Obama administration is urging Congress to pass an additional fiscal stimulus measure, or "jobs bill," early this year to help bolster the economy. Lawmakers are anxious about the economy weighed down from 10 percent unemployment and ongoing weakness in the housing market. Senate Democrats are split about whether they should use TARP money that has been repaid from some of the largest banks to help support new programs to boost lending to small businesses. Republicans want the repaid money to go toward paying down the $1.35 trillion deficit.

A setback for drive to punish Bush-era 'war criminals'
Excerpt: One cherished goal of legal activists on the left is to punish the "war criminals" who helped shape terrorist interrogation policies during the Bush administration. Some of those activists now work in the Obama Justice Department and have been hoping the Department would find two Bush-era lawyers in particular, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, guilty of professional misconduct -- a move that would likely result in both men facing disbarment proceedings. The activists are sure to be disappointed in a new report by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, who say a still-unreleased report from the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility "clears the Bush administration lawyers who authored the 'torture' memos of professional-misconduct allegations."

There Was the President's Speech, and There Is Reality
Excerpt: Watching President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech makes me wonder whether the reason he tells so many fibs is that he believes them himself. Either that or he is an even better actor than he is a teleprompter reader. Obama not only wasn't contrite about his broken promises and disastrous record; he was on the attack, daring anyone to oppose his agenda -- even in the face of the Massachusetts rebuke. But let's see how some of his statements match up with reality. On health care, he taunted congressmen to "let me know" if any of them have "a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses," as if his own plan would do those things. Even the Congressional Budget Office has said most of the Democratic plans would increase the budget. Besides, you can't reduce overall costs when government forces an increase in demand, even if it caps insurance premiums and shifts costs elsewhere and/or imposes rationing. The CBO has also reported that with Obamacare, millions would remain uninsured. So under his plan, costs would rise, quality and choice would decrease, care would be rationed, millions would remain uninsured and, worst of all, the government would acquire an unprecedented level of control over all aspects of our lives. Do conservatives have better ideas? Of course. Restore market forces through tort reform, strengthening health savings accounts, abolishing government coverage mandates, allowing consumers to purchase policies across state lines and eliminating the tax laws incentivizing employer-provided health care, which unnecessarily increase demand by making prices invisible to consumers.

Vietnam phonies? Some go on to fame and fortune.
Excerpt: What he did while on active duty is even more confusing. In 1979, Mr. Harkin, then a congressman, participated in a round-table discussion arranged by the Congressional Vietnam Veterans' Caucus. "I spent five years as a Navy pilot, starting in November of 1962," Mr. Harkin said at that meeting, in words that were later quoted in a book, Changing of the Guard, by Washington Post political writer David Broder. "One year was in Vietnam. I was flying F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols and photo-reconnaissance support missions. I did no bombing." That clearly is not an accurate picture of his Navy service. Though Mr. Harkin stresses he is proud of his Navy record--"I put my ass on the line day after day"--he concedes now he never flew combat air patrols in Vietnam. He was stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Atsugi, Japan. Damaged aircraft were flown into Atsugi for repairs or sometimes flown out of Atsugi to the Philippines for more substantial work. Mr. Harkin says he and three other Navy pilots flew these ferry flights. And, when the planes had been repaired, he and his fellow pilots took them up on test flights. "I had always wanted to be a test pilot," he says. "It was damned demanding work." How much time did he actually spend in Vietnam? "I wouldn't really know," he says. He estimates that over a period of about 12 months he flew in and out of Vietnam "a dozen times, maybe 10 times."

Obama Organizing in High School
Excerpt: An Atlas reader, Chuck, has a student in the eleventh grade in an Ohio High School. Her government class passed out this propaganda recruiting paper so students could sign up as interns for Obama's Organizing for America (OFA is the former site.) Obama is using our public school system to recruit for his Alinsky-inspired private army. Organizing for America is (and I quote) recruiting in our high schools to "build on the movement that elected President Obama by empowering students across the country to help us bring about our agenda" ............of national socialism. The Ohio High School is Perry Local in Massillon, Ohio. This is incredible. And evil. Suffer the little children -- enlisted like SS youth. This is no accident. Obama is poisoning our public school system. He acts as if it's his own private breeding farm. Once again academic learning and achievement is hopelessly abandoned, and supplanted by radical leftist activism from the leftwing Alinsky indoctrinators in the perverse public school system.

Blue California may turn red
Excerpt: Voter apathy among Latinos and other minority voters threatens to turn traditionally blue state California into another Massachusetts-like shocker in this year's midterm elections, political experts are warning. The importance of the turnout among Latinos and other minorities, according to several political consultants and strategists, underscores the tenuous position of statewide Democratic candidates in a new Field Poll showing them in trouble with white voters. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer trailed Republican challenger Tom Campbell, 46 percent to 43 percent among white voters but leads him by 10 points overall because of Boxer's 74-point advantage among African-Americans and 36-point advantage among Latinos.

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