Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Political Digest February 17, 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.

To all the readers who send me items for the blog. When you can, please include a link to the story—with 300 e-mails a day, business and personal, I usually don’t have tme to search for the item. And I never have time for power point shows of cute kittens, or looking a videos that tell me nothing about them except that they are a “must watch” or a great investment of ten minutes.

Afghan Taliban's second in command captured in Karachi
Doubtless the Obama Administration has swung into action, sending a team of top lawyers to Pakistan to read him his rights and ensure he is not being treated harshly. After all, all terrorists and enemy combatants are entitled to the protection of the US Constitution, even if they are not on US soil. Shouldn’t matter who captured him to a constitutional scholar like BO. Excerpt: The Afghan Taliban's second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was captured last week in Karachi during a joint operation by Pakistan's intelligence service and the CIA, according to U.S. and Pakistani sources. Deputy to Taliban leader Mohammad Omar, Baradar has been considered by many to be in de facto control of the insurgent organization in recent years. His capture is by far the most important detention since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and the first known capture of a top-ranking insurgent during the Obama administration. The sources, who would speak only on condition of anonymity about the highly secret operation, said that the information had been tightly held to prevent word leaking to other senior Taliban commanders while Baradar was being interrogated. They said the interrogation was being conducted jointly by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials and is seen as a major step forward in cooperation between the two services, which has been rocky in the past.

U.S. curtails use of airstrikes in assault on Marja
I don’t know. This may be the right strategy to win the war, trying to win over the civilians by limiting “collateral damage,” which wouldn’t exist if the Taliban wasn’t trying to impose its rule by force rather than elections. But while the arguments are academic to most readers of this blog, to the grunts and their families it means more dead Marines and soldiers. Excerpt: To the Marines of Bravo Company, the black-and-white video footage from a surveillance drone seemed to present the perfect shot: more than a dozen armed insurgents exiting a building and heading to positions to attack U.S. and Afghan forces seeking to wrest control of this Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. Facing stiff resistance from Taliban fighters, the Marines radioed for permission to call in an airstrike on the insurgents at midday Monday. It appeared to be the sort of clear opportunity that would have prompted a rapidly executed bombing run during the Iraq war, or even in the first seven years of this conflict. But not anymore: Officers at the Marine headquarters deemed the insurgents to be too close to a set of houses. In the new way the United States and its NATO allies are waging the Afghan war, dropping a bomb on or near a house is forbidden unless troops are in imminent danger of being overrun, or they can prove that no civilians are inside.

Major Hasan: The Counterlife
Excerpt: Suppose that on Nov. 4, 2009—the day before he would open fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, killing 13 and wounding 30—Major Nidal Malik Hasan had been arrested by military police and charged with intent to commit acts of terrorism. Where would his case stand today? My guess: a public uproar, complete with exacting doubts about the strength of the evidence against him. This would be followed by sage lamentations about how a "Christianist" military had indicted a patriotic Muslim-American simply for having religious scruples about the justice of our wars. Further down the line one can imagine a Pentagon apology, a book contract, a speaking tour.

Welcome to UC Islam
Excerpt: Muslim students are not always cowards. But the Muslim Student Union (MSU) is often the least tolerant and most cowardly student group on a given college campus. The gulf between the speech they prevent and what they practice with administrators' consent is enormous. What follows is a summary of a recent, and increasingly typical, incident. I have included links to video of the incident for verification. I have also included the chancellor's complete contact information so that “infidels” can express disgust with unchecked Muslim bigotry and intolerance on our nation’s campuses.

Baseless Case Against Turkish Christians Further Prolonged
turkey is considered the most moderate and secular of the Islamic countries, is trying to get into the EU—and this is the state of Freedom of Speech and Religion there. Excerpt: Barely five minutes into the latest hearing of a more than three-year-old case against two Christians accused of “insulting Turkishness and Islam,” the session was over. The prosecution had failed to produce their three final witnesses to testify against Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal for alleged crimes committed under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code. The same three witnesses had failed to heed a previous court summons to testify at the last hearing, held on Oct. 15, 2009.

Rapist Jamaile Morally in boiling oil jail attack
The Qur’an says, "There is no compulsion in religion" (2:256). Guess this guy didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: A jailed killer poured boiling oil over another inmate because he refused to convert to Islam. Jamaile Morally, 26 - sentenced to life as part of a gang that raped, tortured and murdered a teenage girl and left another for dead - led two other inmates in carrying out the attack. They boiled up the oil in a kitchen at high-security Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambs, and poured it over Durwayne Martin, 26, scalding his neck, shoulders and back. A prison source said: "There has been a real problem of extremist Muslims trying to convert other inmates to Islam." (Ya think?)

Sudan opposition leader says genocidal violence a "jihad"
Excerpt: I've been noting for years that the genocide in southern Sudan and Darfur was identified as a jihad by its perpetrators. But the mainstream media and official Washington have always characterized it as "ethnic violence." Will they believe Sadiq al-Mahdi? I doubt it. He must be some kind of Islamophobe.

Obama's new OIC envoy defended top jihadist -- and someone has covered up the evidence
Excerpt: Sami al-Arian is the former Florida professor who turned out to be a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and who waged an immensely successful propaganda campaign charging that his prosecution was a manifestation of "Islamophobia" -- until he pled guilty, that is. And Rashad Hussain was part of that campaign, although someone has tried to cover up that fact. "Obama's New OIC Envoy Defended Activist Who Aided Terrorist Group," by Patrick Goodenough for CNS News, February 15:

As Obama bets on Asia, regional players hedge
Excerpt: Asia forms the crossroads of success or failure for Barack Obama's grandest foreign policy designs. This impression has crystallized over a year in which the president has shown himself indifferent to Europe, sentimental and somewhat conflicted about Africa, perplexed by the Middle East and largely oblivious to Latin America.

Playing Freedom Cheap by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: If eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, incessant distractions are the way that politicians take away our freedoms, in order to enhance their own power and longevity in office. Dire alarms and heady crusades are among the many distractions of our attention from the ever increasing ways that government finds to take away more of our money and more of our freedom. Magicians have long known that distracting an audience is the key to creating the illusion of magic. It is also the key to political magic. Alarms ranging from "overpopulation" to "global warming" and crusades ranging from "affordable housing" to "universal health care" have been among the distractions of political magicians. But few distractions have had such a long and impressive political track record as getting people to resent and, if necessary, hate other people. The most politically effective totalitarian systems have gotten people to give up their own freedom in order to vent their resentment or hatred at other people-- under Communism, the capitalists; under Nazis, the Jews.

US Olympic Hockey Goalie Forced To Remove 'Support Our Troops' Sticker On Helmet
I agree with his sentiments, but understand the point. Wouldn’t want an Iranian athlete to have a “Death to America and the Jews” sticker on his helmet.

Disgusting Lack of Bi-Partisanship
Like many of you, I was appalled by the lack of bi-partisan cooperation between the Colts and Saints in the Superbowl. Each team was intent on its own goals and refused to budge on its principles in order to assist or work with the other team. They were so intent on “winning” that they both put that ahead of considering what might have been best for the country. Where will it end?

Concern Aired Over Banks’ Real Estate Loans
This one worries me a lot. Excerpt: A huge wave of mortgage failures on commercial real estate could hit next year, causing banks to lose as much as $300 billion, imperiling lending for small businesses and hindering the economic recovery, a Congressional panel is warning. In a report to be released on Thursday, the Congressional Oversight Panel, which is responsible for reviewing the Treasury’s $700 billion bailout program, said commercial loan losses could jeopardize the stability of many banks, particularly the nation’s midsize and smaller banks, contributing to prolonged weakness throughout the economy. The panel’s chairwoman, Elizabeth Warren, has been pressing the Treasury to compel thousands of banks to undergo stress tests like the ones that the Federal Reserve required of 19 of the country’s biggest financial institutions early last year. The Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, has called that idea impractical. He acknowledged, however, that many community banks had greater exposure than the largest banks to a downturn in commercial real estate. From 2010 to 2014, about $1.4 trillion in commercial real estate loans will reach the end of their terms, according to the report, a copy of which was provided by the panel to The New York Times. Commercial property values have fallen more than 40 percent since the start of 2007, and nearly half of the loans coming due are “underwater,” meaning the borrower owes more than the property is worth, according to the report. Vacancy rates are as varied as 8 percent for multifamily housing to 18 percent for office buildings, and rents have fallen 40 percent for office space and 33 percent for retail space, the report states.

Why liberals are lawyers' puppets
Democratic Party leaders are owned by the lawsuit industry
Excerpt: When President Obama and his liberal Democratic allies squeal at the Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to exercise freedom of political speech, somebody should ask them why they aren't as horrified by the enormous campaign expenditures by the one industry that treats liberal politicians like chattel servants. The industry in question is the bar of big-money plaintiffs' lawyers. A study called "Trial Lawyers Inc.," released Feb. 9 by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, tells the tale. For years, during every election cycle, lawyers as a whole have donated more money than any other industry to federal and state political campaigns. This largesse included $780 million for federal and $725 million for state elections in the past decade alone. The bulk of that cash comes from plaintiffs' attorneys. Each cycle, 90 percent or more of that jackpot-justice cash goes to Democrats. Plaintiffs' firms are four of the top seven donors to the campaigns of embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, also is deeply in political debt to these lawyer groups. The lawyers get what they pay for. Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, spilled the beans at a Reston, Va., town meeting in August when he admitted the main reason Democrats don't include lawsuit reform in their health care proposals is that they are afraid of angering the plaintiffs' lawyers. And bill after bill after bill in the Democratic Congress, on a bewildering variety of issues, contain hidden provisions that would further enrich those attorneys. Not that they need it. At an annual direct cost to the economy of $250 billion, the lawsuit industry represents about 2 percent of the entire American economy. That's twice the percentage of gross domestic product as is taken up by lawsuits in Germany and three times that of France and Great Britain. These numbers do not even include most securities litigation or the billions of dollars paid by tobacco companies as a result of the famous 50-state lawsuit in the 1990s. Nor do they include indirect costs from rampant lawsuits, such as the amount of good behavior deterred through fear of legal action or the expensive, unnecessary tests ordered by doctors to avoid spurious malpractice suits. More data from the "Trial Lawyers Inc." report: About 83 percent of Americans polled say the legal system makes it too easy to assert invalid claims. No wonder. A host of high-profile class-action lawsuits have turned out to be utter boondoggles. Massive fraud was discovered in thousands upon thousands of claims for a disease called asbestosis. An entire breast-implant industry was killed by such suits even though it later turned out the implants were safe. Similar horror stories abound. Meanwhile, three of the nation's most prominent big-money lawyers have been imprisoned in recent years. A fourth, the late Fred Baron of Texas, provided the hush money to hide the love child of the nation's most famous trial attorney of all, sleazy former presidential candidate John Edwards.

A Real Solution for Covering the Uninsured
Excerpt: Health care reform must start with Medicaid, which already spends over $400 billion a year providing substandard coverage for 50 million poor Americans. Speaking about health care reform in his State of the Union address, President Obama said “But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.” Now, as America knows, he wants to meet with Congressional Republicans and Democrats on February 25 to discuss health care reform. On February 25, Republicans should seize the opportunity to broadcast the best kept secret of health policy: the uninsured can be covered at relatively modest additional net cost, without a government takeover of health care, rationing, new health care bureaucracies, or any of the other central components of Obamacare. The lack of a clear safety net for the uninsured is what gives Democrats the political clout to keep coming back for socialized medicine. Republicans should advance the modest reforms necessary to establish a true safety net that will ensure that no one who needs it will be denied essential health care. Only these reforms will permanently protect the health care of the American people from government takeover and control. Reform should start with Medicaid, which already spends over $400 billion a year providing substandard coverage for 50 million poor Americans. Congress should transform Medicaid to provide assistance to purchase private health insurance for all who otherwise could not afford coverage, ideally with health insurance vouchers. This one step would enormously benefit the poor already on Medicaid. The program today pays doctors and hospitals only 60% of costs for their health care services for the poor. As a result, 40% of doctors and hospitals won’t take Medicaid patients. This is already a form of rationing, as Medicaid patients find obtaining health care increasingly difficult, and studies show they suffer worse health outcomes as a result. Health insurance vouchers would free the poor from this Medicaid ghetto, enabling them to obtain the same health care as the middle class, because they would be able to buy the same health insurance in the market.

Getting Ready for the Healthcare Summit
Excerpt: What’s the purpose of the health summit — bringing the president and Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders together? The Republicans hoped it meant we would start over. Toss out the highly defective legislation that has been working its way through the House and Senate and begin anew with a clean slate. The White House is rejecting that idea. Apparently, all they want is to ascertain the minimum changes they have to accept in order to get a bill passed. Okay. Here are ten of the changes (in the ‘60’s we would have called them “non-negotiable demands”) needed to make ObamaCare acceptable.

Facts on comparison of US - Canadian - and British Health Care Systems
This site responds to a previous article I posted. Excerpt: There is a bogus email going around claiming to be published by "Investor's Business Daily" that gives false information about how bad socialized medicine is in Britain and Canada. The real facts are bad enough; no need for invented statistics.

Alabama shooter a crazed, right wing extremist… oh, wait
Excerpt: The George Soros Steno Pool, a.k.a. Media Matters, had lots to say about the 2009 murder at the Washington, D.C. Holocaust Museum — until the shooter turned out to be a 9/11 truther who hated “neo-cons.” Media Matters is now observing radio silence regarding the recent mass murder at an Alabama college. Usually, leftists shamelessly use events like this to call for more gun control. Not this time. Maybe because the shooter is what the late novelist Dominick Dunne, in a very different context, called “an inconvenient woman”: A family source said Bishop (…) was a far-left political extremist who was “obsessed” with President Obama to the point of being off-putting.

Bayh: Love serving constituents, 'but I do not love Congress'
Excerpt: Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D) on Monday blamed the sharp partisanship that divides Washington for his lack of desire to serve there, saying that Congress has grown too divisive for the former governor and two-term senator to continue. "For some time, I've had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should," Bayh told an audience at an Indiana University-Purdue University campus in Indianapolis. "There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress; too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done." (It’s hard to argue with the concept that Congress is broken. See the book The Broken Branch from a few years ago. The campaign is endless, and they spend all their time raising money, campaigning or jockeying for power after the next election. Hard to know how to fix it.)

This from Red States Morning Briefing about Bayh
CNN reports this little gem that might otherwise be missed: "He hates the Senate, hates the left bloggers," a friend and longtime adviser to Bayh said. "They are getting their wish, pure Democrats in the minority." (Look who has a purity test now!)

Winners and losers from Evan Bayh's retirement

Retiring lawmakers may be tempted to take big job openings on K Street
The revolving door, whereby the road to wealth leads through the Congress, for members of both parties. Excerpt: Lawmakers retiring this year have little reason to fret the job market: Some of K Street's biggest players have top openings with seven-figure salaries or the chance to rub elbows with Hollywood stars. The growing list of members who have decided not to seek re-election and top-notch job opportunities will only further the trend of ex-lawmakers lobbying for interests they once oversaw.

Replace Rahm
Think this is a left wing blog! Excerpt: President Obama desperately needs a sweeping staff shakeup to save his presidency. Leslie H. Gelb on why he must reassign Rahm, dump Larry Summers, and get rid of National Security adviser Jim Jones. The negative, even dismissive, talk about the Obama White House has reached a critical point. The president must change key personnel now. Unless he speedily sets up a new team, he will be reduced to a speechmaker. It’s mostly a matter of relocating the Chicago and campaign crowd who surround the Oval Office and inserting people with proven records of getting things done in Washington and the world. To be fair, it’s not clear whether the bad judgments on priorities, practicalities, and steadiness come from Mr. Obama or his White House team. Maybe he overpowers them in discussions, or maybe he gives them a role in policymaking far beyond their experience in that realm. Unless you’re there, you don’t know. But Mr. Obama is the president, and except for the right-wing crazies, most Americans still recognize his great talents and promise. It is he who’s got to be helped. So it is they who’ve got to go.

Obama hit hard as Bayh bows out
Excerpt: US President Barack Obama suffered another setback Monday as a fifth Democratic senator, centrist heavyweight Evan Bayh, decided not to run for re-election in dismay at the bitter political climate. Obama, who reportedly tried to talk Bayh out of retiring, faces a looming Republican resurgence and risks watching strong majorities in Congress crumble in November mid-term elections, and with them his ambitious reform agenda.

WH To Coast Guard Commander Adm. Allen: 'We'll Take The Glory, You Do The Work, Now STFU And Don't Mention That The Your Cutters, Ice-Breakers Are Old And Broken & You Lack Equipment
Excerpt: A source with close ties to the Coast Guard told us this morning that the “White House hammered Allen” once they saw a draft of his final State of the Coast Guard speech. Basically, he was told, you’ve got your budget now get out there and defend it. The Coast Guard sailed right into Haiti after the earthquake. Their High Endurance Cutters –average age close to 41 years — were the prime assets the Coasties relied on to get people and equipment to Haiti. They made it there, but as Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen has made clear, the HECs are tired and limping after their latest deployment. Allen’s proof: 10 of the 12 cutters had to head into port for serious repair work as a result of their latest deployment. Adm. Allen offered that number during his State of Coast Guard speech on Friday afternoon. In a Jan. 19 message to his command, Allen described the Coast Guard’s rapid response to the disaster: “The next morning, Haitians witnessed President Obama’s pledge — “You will not be forsaken and you will not be forgotten” — become reality when the cutter FORWARD arrived with the rising sun as the first American asset on-​​scene. Amidst the devastation, FORWARD delivered damage assessments, critical command and control capabilities, and most importantly — hope.”

Redemption: Climate Change Was A Lie
A sensible environmental program. Excerpt: What must be done now is to award the email hacker with the next Nobel Peace Prize, revoke Al Gore’s, confiscate all the profits that have been made from furthering the lies and misdirections of the climate alarmists (including Michael Moore of course), shut down the UN’s Climate wing, and immediately dismantle and disrupt the EPA and the last 20 years of restrictions and regulations and blockades of access to American energy resources. Oh yeah-let’s burn the Cap & Trade bill and shutter the whole economy-destroying Ethanol nonsense while we’re at it. Why you ask? Because it has finally come out that there has been no global warming since 1995 (it was much worse during Medieval times you see) and the now-shamed Professor at the heart of the original IPCC email scandal has finally been uncovered as a fraud. I can actually understand now why he once considered suicide…he knew this day of reckoning was coming. The problem with saying “the science is settled” is that, sooner or later, someone else that truly believes in the never-ending pursuit of “science” is going to un-settle it with either new revelations or new discoveries. Unfortunately for Al Gore, we have come upon a newer, even more inconvenient truth; they lied.

Obama touts nuclear loan guarantee
Excerpt: President Obama announced $8 billion in loan guarantees Tuesday to build a new nuclear power plant in Georgia, part of the White House push for new jobs from clean-energy technology.

Democrats may have to sue to get Rep. Griffith's donations returned
Excerpt: Democrats may have to sue Rep. Parker Griffith to reclaim hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations they gave to the Alabaman before he left the party for the GOP late last year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent more than $500,000 last cycle to propel Griffith to Congress over Republican Wayne Parker, according to campaign records. Despite an initial pledge in January to return the campaign donations of any disappointed supporters, Griffith quickly clarified that he would not return any of the money that the DCCC pumped into his 2008 race.

Nation’s Top Conservatives Will Sign Philosophical Declaration of War against Big Government
Excerpt: The nation's top conservative leaders will gather Wednesday at Collingwood in Alexandria, Va.—a property that was once the site of George Washington’s River Farm—to sign a document organizers are calling the Mount Vernon Statement. It is designed to signal that a united and resurgent conservative movement is declaring philosophical war against the big government and moral relativism advanced by the nation’s liberal cultural, academic and political establishments. The statement emphatically says no to the type of "change" pushed by political leaders who ignore the Constitution's limits on government power

My New Retirement Plan
I’ve figured out a way to afford to retire, which I’m happy to share with my faithful readers. On Monday I switch to GEICO. On Tuesday to State Farm. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to another car insurance company. The next week, I start over. Each time I switch, according to what I see on TV, I’m saving over $400. Being able to sock away over two grand a week and still have my weekends off should put me on easy street in no time.

Heaviest Element yet Known to Science Discovered
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California has now identified with certainty the heaviest element known to science. The new element, Pelosium (PL), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Pelosium is inert, and has no charge and no magnetism. Nevertheless, it can be detected because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Pelosium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete. Pelosium has a normal half-life of 2 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a biennial reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. Pelosium mass will increase over time, since each reorganization will promote many morons to become isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Pelosium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass. When catalyzed with money, Pelosium becomes Senatorium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Pelosium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons. The Patriot Post.

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