Monday, February 15, 2010

Political Digest February 15, 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.

Congressman Ted Poe on forcing people to buy insurance
And the constitution.

Tea Party Patriots Rock Bayside Queens Healthcare Protest with Dan Halloran
Disgruntled Democrats.

Obama's ratings are crucial to the midterm fortunes of congressional Democrats
Excerpt: The latest polls underscore the depth of dissatisfaction with Washington around the country in the opening weeks of this election year. For nervous Democrats on Capitol Hill, nothing will be more important to their reelection prospects than how President Obama responds to the anger that's out there. The new polls found anti-Washington and anti-incumbent sentiment today as great as it has been in many years. The deep recession, continued high unemployment and political polarization in Washington have put the country in a sour mood toward politicians. Disapproval of Congress hit 71 percent in the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. This has sent political strategists scrambling for historical analogies. What they see are similarities to 2006 and 1994, two midterm election years in which control of Congress changed hands. Anger at Washington was also quite high during the standoffs in the mid-1990s between the Republican-controlled Congress led by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and then-President Bill Clinton.

Police say suspect in Alabama campus killings had fatally shot brother in 1986
Some blogs are claiming that the DA—now Congressman—Bill Delahunt deciced not to seek charges when she shot her brother. Excerpt: The professor accused of killing three colleagues during a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama campus here Friday is a Harvard-educated neurobiologist, inventor and mother whose life had been marred by a violent episode in her distant past. More than two decades ago, police said, Amy Bishop fatally shot her teenage brother at their Massachusetts home in what officers at the time logged as an accident.

Braintree chief: We let Alabama slay suspect go in ‘86 shooting of brother
Excerpt: According to Frazier, then-Chief John Polio ordered cops to release Bishop - whose mother, Judith Bishop, Frazier said was a public official sitting on the Personnel Committee.
“I spoke with the retired deputy chief who was . . . responsible for booking Ms. Bishop. He said he had started the process when he received a call from then-Police Chief John Polio or possibly from a captain on Chief Polio’s behalf,” Frazier said. “He was instructed to stop the booking process. At some point Ms. Bishop was turned over to her mother and they left the building via a rear exit. . . . The release of Ms. Bishop did not sit well with the police officers.” No one answered the door yesterday at the Ipswich home of Bishop’s parents. Interviewed at his Braintree home, Polio yesterday said the shooting was accidental and that then-D.A. William Delahunt had investigated and decided not to file charges. “There was absolutely no coverup at all,” he said. “We did everything that was right under the circumstances.” Delahunt, now a congressman, yesterday said in a telephone interview that he did not recall the case

High-Speed Spending
Excerpt: Next to national health care, no liberal dream has lingered longer in the nation's public policy than high-speed rail. No surprise that it hit the ground in President Obama's State of the Union speech. Like health care, the justifications shift with the political winds. High-speed rail's current rationale, needless to say, is jobs. Unlike real jobs created by the private sector, taxpayers get to pay for those in high-speed rail. Let's look at the Orlando-to-Tampa proposal. Start with the number Mr. Obama attached to an Orlando-Tampa high-speed railway: $1.25 billion. That's a lot but cannot possibly be the bottom line. With rail, it never is. Florida voters know it too. High-speed rail has a long history in Florida dating to 1982 when the governor established a development committee. Florida has since nixed high-speed rail three times because of costs. In 2004, voters repealed a 2000 ballot initiative requiring the state to build a high-speed rail system because they didn't want to foot the bill. You would think this nearly 30-year history of rejection would send a signal to the train lobby, but with the Obama revival, it's back. The Florida Department of Transportation estimates the Tampa-Orlando project will cost $3.5 billion. But according to a 2009 GAO report, new high-speed rail projects in France, Spain and Japan average $51 million per mile. You read that right—$51 million per mile. That would put the cost of the Tampa-Orlando line at $4.28 billion. Which means the state will be on the hook for $3 billion….. Vice President Joe Biden says the Orlando-Tampa $1.25 billion is merely "seed money" and that "more funding is going to come in the future as progress is made." Sounds to us like this project is on track to be too big to fail.

Local Transparency Project
Fighting pork in Illinois.

Harold Ford Wants to be NY's Senator, but Hasn't Paid NY Taxes
Wonder why BO hasn’t given him a job? Seems qualified. Excerpt: When it comes to his shadow run for Senate, Harold Ford is a New Yorker through and through. When it comes to paying taxes, though, he's still a Tennessean — he's never filed a New York return.
Ford claims to have moved to New York three years ago, and says paying "New York taxes" makes him a New Yorker. But his spokeswoman confirms to Gawker that he's never filed a New York tax return — meaning that he's never paid New York's income tax, despite keeping an office and a residence in New York City as a vice chairman of Merrill Lynch since 2007.

Medvedev Wants More Privatization
Even Russia gets it—why doesn’t BO? Excerpt: President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered the Cabinet to sell off more government stakes in successful companies to private investors over the next two years. The Cabinet must submit proposals for increasing the number of “major … strategic companies that are attractive for investment” in its privatization plan by March 15, the Kremlin said on its web site. The current plan, which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed in November, already seeks the sale of stakes in several strategic companies, such as shipper Sovkomflot. Medvedev has the responsibility of striking these companies off the list of strategic assets for the stakes to change hands. He hasn't approved their exclusion as yet.

Bank of America forecloses on house that couple had paid cash for
Excerpt: Charlie and Maria Cardoso are among the millions of Americans who have experienced the misery and embarrassment that come with home foreclosure. Just one problem: The Massachusetts couple paid for their future retirement home in Spring Hill with cash in 2005, five years before agents for Bank of America seized the house, removed belongings and changed the locks on the doors, according to a lawsuit the couple have filed in federal court. Early last month, Charlie Cardoso had to drive to Florida to get his home back, the complaint filed in Massachusetts on Jan. 20 states. The bank had an incorrect address on foreclosure documents — the house it meant to seize is across the street and about 10 doors down — but the Cardosos and a Realtor employed by Bank of America were unable to convince the company that it had the wrong house, the suit states.

The role illegal aliens played in the mortgage crisis (and continue to play)
Excerpt: After writing several articles about this country’s mortgage meltdown and the little-talked about role which illegal aliens have played in this crisis, a woman who I will call “Mary” contacted me, as she wanted to expose the fraudulent practices which eventually brought about the disastrous collapse.

Obama's "Reform" And Clinton's Heart
Excerpt: Today, Americans contend with an Obama Administration that will not (or cannot) tell us what happened to $787 billion of our tax dollars that were appropriated in a “stimulus bill,” but is nonetheless intent on spending an extra $100 billion so President Obama can “create jobs” for us. Today Americans contend with an administration that says “the system worked” after a terrorist was allowed to board a commercial airliner in Amsterdam, and then begin igniting his bomb-laden underwear as the aircraft was landing in Detroit…. But with the insanity of the Obama presidency as our backdrop, it’s worthwhile to stop and ask: what, exactly, is it, that helped enable President Clinton to walk out of a hospital unaided and looking as dignified and healthy and “put together” as ever, less than 24 hours after he rushed in with chest pains and a blockage? The answer is the amazing device that we casually and routinely refer to these days as the “stent.” There’s nothing particularly interesting or unusual any longer about the existence of these little man-made tubes - most Americans alive today have become accustomed to Medical Doctors inserting “stents” into people’s bodies as a means of treatment for everything from blocked arteries, to esophageal cancer, to prostate problems. And it is the installation of two of these little tubes, into one of his clogged arteries, that is enabling a quick recovery from the blockage itself, and, according to his Doctors, will allow President Bill Clinton to return to his “very active lifestyle” within the next day or two.

Message wrong for battleground states
Excerpt: On Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs mocked Sarah Plain’s crib notes on the palm of her hand. The next day, President Obama told Business Week that he didn't begrudge gazillion-dollar bonuses for executives of banks that U.S. taxpayers rescued. That’ll all play real well in battleground congressional districts, where incumbents and hopefuls are trying to define a message and a plan to win back independent voters and conservative Democrats who have surged away from them in recent polls. Poll-aggregator Real-Clear Politics’ average on the generic ballot shows Republicans ahead of Democrats, 46 percent to 42 percent. That is one big red flag for the party in power as the midterms approach.

A sure-fire legal recipe for airport insecurity
Excerpt: Last August, Nicholas George, 22, was getting ready to fly from Pennsylvania to Pomona College in Claremont (Los Angeles County) when TSA agents found Arabic-English flash cards in his pocket - the 200 cards included such words as "bomb" and "explosive" - two stereo speakers in his carry-on bag, a Jordanian student ID card, and a passport that showed he had visited Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sudan. TSA agents detained George for questioning. They determined he was not a security threat and released him less than five hours later. Now, he is suing. Of course the ACLU is representing George. The group explained in a press release that episodes like George's "may actually make us less safe, by diverting vital resources and attention away from true security threats." Nonsense. If ever there was a person you want the TSA to look at very carefully, it's a young male who has Arabic flashcards with words like "bomb" in his pocket, studied in Jordan and recently spent time in Sudan, a country that the State Department believes to sponsor terrorism. Add the fact that George had stereo speakers - remember an explosive-laden tape recorder was used to bring down Pam Am Flight 103 in 1988 - in his carry-on luggage, and it would amount to professional malpractice if TSA and FBI agents did not search and question George. When I first read this story, I had to wonder if, in a world with no shortage of individuals hungry to be victims or discredit the system, the young man was trying to be detained.

Cheney to Biden: Thank George Bush for success in Iraq war
So the war Harry Reid said was “lost” is now one of Obama’s biggest successes? AMAZING. Excerpt: Former Vice President Dick Cheney laughed off Joe Biden's claim Sunday that Iraq will be one of the Obama administration's biggest successes, suggesting he instead ought to thank George W. Bush. "I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by my friend Joe Biden,” Cheney told ABC's "This Week." "If they are going to take credit for [Iraq], fair enough, for what they’ve done while they are there. But it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘thank you George Bush’ up front," he said. Biden responded by claiming the Obama administration has helped secure a political solution in Iraq that was uncertain when Bush left office.

Obama official acknowledges the targeting of American citizens for assassination
Excerpt: Last week, I wrote about a revelation buried in a Washington Post article by Dana Priest which described how the Obama administration has adopted the Bush policy of targeting selected American citizens for assassination if they are deemed (by the Executive Branch) to be Terrorists. As The Washington Times' Eli Lake reports, Adm. Dennis Blair was asked about this program at a Congressional hearing yesterday and he acknowledged its existence:
The U.S. intelligence community policy on killing American citizens who have joined al Qaeda requires first obtaining high-level government approval, a senior official disclosed to Congress on Wednesday. Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said in each case a decision to use lethal force against a U.S. citizen must get special permission. . . . (I don’t agree with this guy. It shouldn’t even need special permission. In arms against us? Citizenship forfeited. Dead.)

Allen West Knows Jihad—The Enemy Ideology
Excerpt: Speaking at a Hudson Institute New York forum panel (Wednesday January 13, 2010) on national security, Lt. Colonel Allen West answered a Marine’s query about the jihad against Western civilization with singular clarity and consistency, elucidating the enemy’s motivating ideology.

Obama scrambling for a way out of KSM trial dilemma
Excerpt: The word is that Holder and Obama "never expected" the kind of pushback against holding a civilian trial for 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikk Mohammed. This is pretty clueless in and of itself. How tone deaf do you have to be in order to be caught unawares when such large majorities favor keeping KSM from using a civilian trial as a propaganda tool? So now, Obama is frantically looking for a way out - keeping the idea of a civilian trial open but moving the venue somewhere else. This is probably a dead end and there are even many Democrats who believe the president will cave on the issue and have KSM tried by a military tribunal.

Israel is accused of waging covert war across the Middle East
The war and the way we should be fighting. Excerpt: Pictures of a burnt bus on the outskirts of Damascus led to suspicion that it was hit by an explosionIsrael is waging a covert assassination campaign across the Middle East in an effort to stop its key enemies co-ordinating their activities. Israeli agents have been targeting meetings between members of Hamas and the leadership of the militant Hezbollah group, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. They are also suspected of recent killings in Dubai, Damascus and Beirut. While Israel’s Mossad spy agency has been suspected of staging assassinations across the world since the 1970s, it does not officially acknowledge or admit its activities. The current spate of killings began in December when a “tourist bus” carrying Iranian officials and Hamas members exploded outside Damascus. The official report by Syria claimed that a tyre had exploded but photographs surfaced showing the charred remains of the vehicle — prompting speculation that a much larger explosion had taken place. Several weeks later a meeting between members of Hamas, which controls Gaza, and their counterparts from Hezbollah in its southern Beirut stronghold in Lebanon was also attacked, resulting in several deaths.

Under Obama, more targeted killings than captures in counterterrorism efforts
Take no prisoners solves the Gitmo problem. Excerpt: When a window of opportunity opened to strike the leader of al-Qaeda in East Africa last September, U.S. Special Operations forces prepared several options. They could obliterate his vehicle with an airstrike as he drove through southern Somalia. Or they could fire from helicopters that could land at the scene to confirm the kill. Or they could try to take him alive. The White House authorized the second option. On the morning of Sept. 14, helicopters flying from a U.S. ship off the Somali coast blew up a car carrying Saleh Ali Nabhan. While several hovered overhead, one set down long enough for troops to scoop up enough of the remains for DNA verification. Moments later, the helicopters were headed back to the ship.

Troops face gunfights and minefields in offensive against Taliban in Afghanistan
Excerpt: U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers encountered pockets of stiff resistance and extensive minefields as they sought to press into this Taliban sanctuary in southern Afghanistan on Saturday. Numerous gunfights with insurgents and painstaking efforts to clear roads of makeshift bombs slowed the advance of many coalition units and delayed them from reaching some key destinations in this farming area of 80,000 people. The operation was further complicated by the challenge of fording irrigation canals that ring the area and traversing a landscape covered in knee-deep mud. "We've had some pretty tough fights," said Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. "It's been a tough slog for some of our companies."

Muslims Confront Islamism, Get Targeted by Islamists
There were a lot of anti-Nazi Germans too. They got the chop. Excerpt: French imam Hassen Chalghoumi recently learned firsthand that Islamists despise non-Islamist Muslims as much as they do anyone else. Chalghoumi attracted their ire by coming out strongly in favor of a ban on face-covering veils, a prohibition that is moving closer to reality.

"We will attack them once we unite the Somali Holy fighters, then we will unite with our brothers in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya to help them in their war against the infidels"
Excerpt: But...but...what do Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya have in common? Don't the learned analysts assure us that those are all separate nationalist insurgencies? And what's all this about a "war against the infidels"? Doesn't Sheik Muqtar Robow know that Obama said that the United States "is not and will never be at war with Islam"? Is Sheik Muqtar Robow some kind of Islamophobe? (We may not be at war with Islam, but a significant section of Islam believes they are at war with us.)

Valentine's Day Weekend, Afghanistan

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