Thursday, March 4, 2010

Political Digest for March 4, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Want to be Lt. Governor of Illinois?
As you may recall, the Democrats, as so often happens, didn’t like who the people selected to be their Gov-lite candidate in the primary. So he’s a pawn broker with a spotted past, including a domestic violence arrest for allegedly holding a knife to his hooker girlfriend’s throat? No one is perfect. Anyway, they forced him out. You’d think the next top vote getter would step up, but you’d be wrong. See, he’s a state Rep. who doesn’t pass the Harry Reid test—he’s far too dark skinned. And they already have a full quota of minorities on the ticket, thank you.

So they opened it up, and you can apply on-line at the link above. I’m applying. Here are my answers to their questions:

1. Why are you a Democrat? I’m not, I’m a Republican, which would give the ticket much needed balance and the bi-partisanship everyone is crying for

2. Have you previously held elected office? If so, which one(s)? Yes. Massachusetts state senator, 1973-83 (5 terms). Represented a 4-1 Democrat district, retired undefeated. Have never lost an election.

3. What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing the State of Illinois and areas of greatest opportunity? Corruption, the budget deficit and the unfunded pension liability.

4. What strengths would you bring to the ticket? I have a BA in Government and an MEd in history. Having served in the Massachusetts senate, I have a lot of experience with out-of-control legislative spending. Plus I’m great at funerals and ribbon cuttings. I think I could keep my day job and do the Lt Gov job part time, at half the salary (plus benefits of course), thus cutting the budget. Having been to Europe 20+ times, plus Japan, Mexico and Vietnam, I’d be great on foreign trade missions. And I’ve been managing non-profit organizations since 1982 at a surplus (look it up—it’s a good thing). Plus I’m not too dark-skinned (as Harry Reid would say), like Rep. Art Turner, and I have no arrests or convictions in my back ground, so I’m not your typical Cook County pol, if you get my drift. I’m a member of Mensa, so smarter than the average Pol too. And I’m not a lawyer.

5. Please list any organizations or elected officials that have endorsed your candidacy for lieutenant governor. None—I’m completely independent, a benefit for the ticket.
You can apply too—or write to them and endorse my candidacy, if you are so inclined.

CNN gun Ban Poll
Scroll to the bottom to vote. Vote for all your dead friends too—it’s the Chicago way.

Hooray For Starbucks
Excerpt: The major news media was replete with reports over the weekend that the coffee company, Starbucks, "has no problem with customers packing heat while placing their orders." "The coffee giant says it won't take issue with gun owners who take advantage of 'open carry' laws and bring firearms into their restaurant." (Source: NBC News) To tell you the truth, I'm not sure why this is even considered "newsworthy." Perhaps because Starbucks is a Seattle-based company that caters to the "yuppie" crowd? Maybe because the anti-gun national news media is shocked and chagrined at Starbucks' statement? Who knows? That Starbucks would not want to alienate millions of gun owners (many of whom lawfully carry concealed weapons for personal protection) makes perfectly good sense to me. I'm sure the statement by Starbucks has little to do with guns and everything to do with business. But the fact is, there are tens of thousands of lawfully armed citizens who carry either concealed or open that have been peacefully doing business with thousands of companies around the country for years. At last glance, 12 states allow unrestricted open carry. Those states are Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, Vermont, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. Plus, at least 13 other states allow restricted open carry (meaning a permit is required). I know it infuriates gun-grabbing liberals to admit this, but the facts are absolutely undeniable that an armed citizenry is far and away a more civilized and peaceful citizenry. Founding Father, author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third President Thomas Jefferson rightly said, "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." Founding Father, the man called "the father of the U.S. Constitution, and our 4th President James Madison, agreed with Jefferson. He wrote in Federalist, Number 46, "[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation . . . [where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." Founding Father and author of the classic Revolution-era books, "Common Sense" and "Rights of Man," Thomas Paine concurred. He said, "Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property . . . Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them." And should there be any doubt in the minds of sincere men regarding the advantages and appropriateness of an armed citizenry, the research of John R. Lott, Jr. is more than sufficient to dispel it. Lott is a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was previously the John M. Olin Visiting Law and Economics Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. His book, "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws," is the most authoritative and thoroughly researched volume on the subject. And the title of his book is exactly what his research proves: More guns, less crime! Lott's analysis "is based on data for all 3,054 counties in the United States during 18 years from 1977 to 1994." Lott said carry laws reduce violent crime because "victims who have guns are in a much better position to defend themselves." DUH!

Speaker Pelosi on Rangel: 'I guess he is still chair of Ways and Means'
Having trouble “draining the swamp” and producing” the most ethical and transparent Congress in history” by ending the “Republican culture of corruption,” Nancy? Excerpt: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday night told The Hill that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is still chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. After huddling with Rangel for 45 minutes, Pelosi initially said, "No comment" when asked if Rangel remains panel chairman. She later added, "I guess he is still chair of Ways and Means..."

Rep. Charles Rangel to temporarily quit key tax post
Now the knives will come out. Hopefully the start of a descent into a well-earned disgrace and obscurity. Excerpt: Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday that he would temporarily step down as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, days after being admonished for breaking House rules by accepting corporate-financed travel.

Who blinks first? Dems can’t agree
Democrats don’t trust each other? Wonder why? Excerpt: Democrats’ final push on healthcare reform has become a game of chicken between the House and Senate. Lawmakers are at an impasse over who should go first, and a lack of trust between Democrats in both chambers threatens to derail the effort in the final stretch. This is complicating an effort to use special rules to move the legislation with a simple majority vote in the Senate. Each side is demanding that certain preconditions be met before acting. “In coming days there will be an endgame strategy that will get a healthcare bill,” said a senior Democratic aide. The shift in negotiations, from policy details to timing, signals lawmakers are largely in agreement on the substance of the final bill. The problem is that members of both chambers doubt their colleagues on the other side of the Capitol can be trusted to hold up any bargain.

Alice in Health Care: Part II by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Yet there seems to be remarkably little interest in examining how government-run medical care actually turns out-- medically and financially-- whether in Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration hospitals in this country, or in government-run medical systems in other countries. We are repeatedly being told that we need to have a government-controlled medical care system, because other countries have it-- as if our policies on something as serious as medical care should be based on the principle of monkey see, monkey do. By all means look at other countries, but not just to see what to imitate. See how it actually turns out. Yet there seems to be an amazing lack of interest in examining what government-controlled medical care produces. While our so-called health care "summit" last week was going on, British newspapers were carrying exposes of terrible, and often deadly, conditions in British hospitals under that country's National Health Service. But this has not become part of our debate on what to expect from government-controlled medical care.

No health care summit bounce, apparently
Excerpt: The first evidence on whether Barack Obama got a bounce from the health care summit comes from the overnight Rasmussen polling. The short answer: No. Or perhaps: au contraire. Rasmussen shows Obama’s strong approval at 22% and strong disapproval at 43%, for a net approval index—this is Rasmussen’s term—of minus 21. That matches the low recorded in Rasmusssen polling on December 21 (reported on December 22), as the Senate was preparing to pass its health care bill and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was in the process of delivering the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback. One night’s results are not overwhelming proof of anything, and the one-day downtick in Obama’s numbers is not statistically significant. But it’s interesting that his numbers fall when health care legislation leads the news. Not what White House strategists want to see.

Learning from the D.C. handgun ban: Getting rid of gun bans leads to less crime
Excerpt: The year after the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban and gun-lock requirements, the capital city's murder rate plummeted 25 percent. The high court should keep that in mind today as it hears oral arguments about a Chicago handgun ban. Gun controllers screamed to high heaven that impending disaster would follow the court's decision to junk some of the district's gun controls. One of those screaming the loudest was Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who incorrectly predicted more gun freedom would lead to more death and Wild West shootouts. Instead, in Washington, murder rates rose when the handgun ban was in effect and fell once the regulations were removed. Chicago's 1982 ban faired no better. The forthcoming third edition of "More Guns, Less Crime" shows that in the 17 years after a ban on new handguns went into effect, there were only two years when Chicago's murder rate was as low as it was in 1982. The Windy City's murder rate fell relative to America's other 50 largest cities before the ban and rose relative to them afterward. For example, Chicago's murder rate went from equaling the average for those other U.S. cities in 1982 to exceeding their average murder rate by 32 percent in 1992. There is no year after the ban that Chicago's murder rate fared as well relative to other cities as it did in 1982.

Fuel Taxes Must Rise, Harvard Researchers Say
But, of course, not for folks making under $250k as BO promised we wouldn’t pay a dime more. This will help the economy—of Saudi Arabia. Excerpt: To meet the Obama administration’s targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers say, Americans may have to experience a sobering reality: gas at $7 a gallon. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the cost of driving must simply increase, according to a forthcoming report by researchers at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Party time at Veterans Affairs
Excerpt: Americans expect the nation to take care of our veterans, especially during war time when the needs of recently wounded warriors increase. But at the Department of Veterans Affairs, some bureaucrats are using their positions to enrich themselves. A report issued last month by the VA inspector general sounds the alarm to shocking allegations of misconduct at a department charged with caring for our heroes. Forty-two heavily redacted pages detail the antics of Diane Hartmann, the VA's director of national programs and special events. In this role, her primary duty was to coordinate rehabilitative events for disabled veterans, but, according to the report, Ms. Hartmann had other interests. For example, Ms. Hartmann allegedly spent her work time coming up with strategies that would contribute to a successful grand opening event for a friend's new business. Among the files investigators say they found on her government-issued computer were marketing plans, invitation letters, mailing lists and advertising flyers for this private event. The IG report alleges that Ms. Hartmann used threats to compel subordinates to join the marketing effort. She also purportedly charged taxpayers for $727.37 in travel expenses for herself and an underling to make a trip to attend the friend's grand opening. The misuse of travel expenses didn't stop there. By arranging meetings described as "unnecessary" at medical centers in places like Colorado, Las Vegas and San Diego, she was able to rack up thousands in taxpayer-funded travel for what she called official business. Investigators described photographs from Ms. Hartmann's computer that showed her at "work" on these trips - golfing, sightseeing and taking a cruise on Stars and Stripes, the America's Cup yacht. Time stamps on the digital images suggested to investigators that some fibbing may have been used to justify the junkets. In one case, according to the report, "the project that Ms. Hartmann supposedly went to see did not physically exist." All the travel must have taken a toll, as Ms. Hartmann, according to the report, granted herself 306 hours worth of compensatory time off. When Ms. Hartmann's superiors learned of the pending investigation into her conduct, they tipped her off and she purportedly shredded her time sheets in an unsuccessful effort to hide the offense. Believe it or not, according to the inspector general, this is not considered a crime. The government system is so tilted in favor of preserving the status quo that rogue career bureaucrats only face "administrative sanction" for malfeasance of the sort described above.

Who Poses the Greater Threat?
Excerpt: Bill Gates is the world's richest person, but what kind of power does he have over you? Can he force your kid to go to a school you do not want him to attend? Can he deny you the right to braid hair in your home for a living? It turns out that a local politician, who might deny us the right to earn a living and dictates which school our kid attends, has far greater power over our lives than any rich person. Rich people can gain power over us, but to do so, they must get permission from our elected representatives at the federal, state or local levels. For example, I might wish to purchase sugar from a Caribbean producer, but America's sugar lobby pays congressmen hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to impose sugar import tariffs and quotas, forcing me and every other American to purchase their more expensive sugar. Politicians love pitting us against the rich. All by themselves, the rich have absolutely no power over us. To rip us off, they need the might of Congress to rig the economic game. It's a slick political sleight-of-hand where politicians and their allies amongst the intellectuals, talking heads and the news media get us caught up in the politics of envy as part of their agenda for greater control over our lives…. Tyrants denounce free markets and voluntary exchange. They are the chief supporters of reduced private property rights, reduced rights to profits, and they are anti-competition and pro-monopoly. They are pro-control and coercion, by the state. These Americans who run Washington, and their intellectual supporters, believe they have superior wisdom and greater intelligence than the masses. They believe they have been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Like any other tyrant, they have what they consider good reasons for restricting the freedom of others. A tyrant's primary agenda calls for the elimination or attenuation of the market. Why? Markets imply voluntary exchange and tyrants do not trust that people behaving voluntarily will do what the tyrant thinks they should do. Therefore, they seek to replace the market with economic planning and regulation, which is little more than the forcible superseding of other people's plans by the powerful elite.

America picks the wrong moment to mimic Europe
Excerpt: If one were picking allies on a rational basis, Europe would hardly be at the top of any list. Europe is aging, militarily inconsequential and, with the legacy costs of 40 years of welfare-state excess coming due, has an unsustainable economic model.
Just months after finally settling on a constitution, the European Union is confronting the imminent failure of its currency because the strong economies, like Germany, are being bled white by the fiscal imprudence of second-tier members. It was one thing for homogeneous, wealthy, communitarian Northern European nations to embrace the idea of trying to maintain societal stasis through socialism. You might fail, but it will happen so slowly that each generation hardly notices the decline. But as economic demographer Joel Kotkin wrote in Forbes: "In contrast, countries like Portugal, Greece and to some extent Spain have tried to create a Scandinavian-style welfare state based on Banana Republic economies.

Gen. Casey, Rep. Wilson and the Jackson Five
Excerpt: Gen. George Casey, silver-haired Army chief of staff, the White House, and mainstream media are dancing fast and singing loud. They are convincing us the Fort Hood massacre was the act of a lone and sadly deranged gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who just incidentally happens to be a devout Muslim. They are doing a great whitewash of that November day when Hasan shouted Allahu Akbar as he shot and killed 13 and wounded 30 in the worst terror attack since 9/11. But a month later, on Dec. 15, 2009, the “Jackson Five” appeared and threatened to upstage the whole show. How could five nameless upstarts force Gen. Casey and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) into damage control? Fort Jackson is in Wilson’s district, the Army’s largest Initial Training Center. On 1,200 acres near Columbia, S.C., it trains half of all recruits (70 percent of all women) entering the Army. The huge base serves 40,000 hot meals daily in 13 dining halls. On Dec. 15, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) got a tip that five Muslim recruits were planning to poison the base’s food supply, and that they were in contact with Washington, D.C.-area Muslims who traveled to Pakistan to train as jihadist fighters. The CID’s secret arrest of the Jackson Five was uncovered by Erick Stakelbeck of CBN News on Feb. 18, 2010. But the Army blackout simply got blacker. The conspirators were in the Army’s 902nd Military Intelligence Group’s MOS 09L program (“Lima Nine”), E Company, 187th Ordnance Battalion. Lima Nine was started because of the Army’s desperate lack of linguists speaking Pashto, Dari or Arabic. To attract such recruits, military intelligence promises foreigners that if they join the Army as a translator they will get U.S. citizenship and a top security clearance. Candidates from Afghanistan and Iraq, including the Jackson Five, speak such poor English the Army puts them in Lima Nine and gives them English lessons, so they will have some hope of passing basic training. Clayton Leishman, program manager, said 34 recruits in the program last summer scored 50 in English, below the 80 required, but with 24 weeks of tutoring they would pass basic. Another program director, Lt. Col. Frank Deminth, said Lima Nine recruits are put on a fast track to U.S. citizenship, “once they serve one day of honorable active duty.” It is interesting to note that when these Muslims join Lima Nine they also are joining an Army intelligence group. The arrest of five Muslims in Lima Nine could not have come at a worse time for Gen. Casey, who said of Hasan’s massacre, “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy. But I think it would be a greater tragedy if it (affected) our diversity.” Whatever hour of the night he was told about the Jackson Five, it must have seemed to him his treasured ‘diversity’ had jumped up yet again to bite his four-starred posterior. Casey must have leaped into action. As a result, what happened was nothing—for two months. Dead silence. Then CBN found out about it, and conflicting statements by Army and CID spokesmen and by Rep. Wilson tell the rest of the story.

Why France is right about the Burka
Excerpt: In his 2009 Cairo address to the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama mentioned no fewer than three times the issue of the headscarf, or hijab. Each time, his purpose was to stress "the right of women and girls to wear the hijab" — but never their right not to wear it.

Civil-Military Relations and the U.S. Strategy Deficit
Long but worth reading. Excerpt: The primary focus of those who have examined civil-military relations since the 1990s has been on the issue of civilian control of the military. Of course, civilian control is important, especially in the case of a liberal society such as the United States. But civilian control is only one part of the civil-military equation. The effectiveness of the military is equally important because failure on the battlefield threatens the very existence of the polity the military is sworn to defend. The issue of civilian control means very little if the military instrument is unable to ensure the survival of the state. Unfortunately very little has been written on the relationship between civil-military relations and success in war. But difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought the issue to the fore.

Runaway wives sentenced to public flogging by warlord
Just following the directive of the Holy Qur’an in Sura 4/24. Excerpt: According to Ghor governor Abdul Hai Khatibi, the two women flogged that day -- only one is seen on the video -- had been forced to marry against their will. Beaten by their husbands, they ran away from their respective homes disguised in men's clothing. After a month on the run they were caught by police in Chasht (Herat province, west), arrested, and sent back to their husbands. Both women were sentenced to 45 lashes in public. In a statement made on Pajhowk Afghan News, the deputy chief of police of Dolina district, Jahan Shah, explained that the case had been handed over to the local warlord, Fazl Ahad. He decided to have the women punished for running away, but also demanded that the husbands, whom he deemed guilty as well, divorce their wives.

The Turban and the Swastika: The Muslims and the Nazis
Excerpt: "Dear Comrades, The friendship between Muslims and Germans has become much stronger, because National Socialism is in many respects parallel to Islamic philosophy. Points of similarity are monotheism and unity of leadership, Islam as an organizing force, struggle, community, family and progeny, the relationship with the Jews, glorification of work and production." The Mufti of Jerusalem addressing his Muslim Nazi troops.

Scary facts from Newt

Scary: Maxine Waters vs Ben Bernanke

Timeless quotes from Will Rogers
About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.

Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what's going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?

And the thing about my jokes is, they don't hurt anybody. You can take 'em or leave 'em - you can say they're funny or they're terrible or they're good, or whatever, but you can just pass 'em by. But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it's a law! And every time they make a law, it's a joke!

If I studied all my life, I couldn't think up half the number of funny things passed in one session of congress.

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

The more you observe politics, the more you've got to admit that each party is worse than the other.

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