Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Political Digest March 16, 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.

Health care vote: The final countdown
Excerpt: In six days time, President Obama's health care bill will almost certainly have either passed or failed -- although which of those two options will be better for Democrats politically this fall remains an open question. With the president having pushed back his planned foreign trip three days to ensure all hands on deck as the bill maneuvers its way through the House, a host of party leaders and strategists spun their way through the Sunday talk shows yesterday as observers try to discern whether or not Democrats can find the votes to pass the measure. White House senior adviser David Axelrod was everywhere on Sunday -- he appeared on three different shows -- to push what we are calling the "short term pain, long term gain" argument. On ABC's "This Week", Axelrod urged House Members "to leave the politics aside, to leave the partisanship aside, to resist the special interests and get the job done." (Politicians NEVER, especially in an election year, put the politics aside.) Even as Axelrod was appealing to members' better angels, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (S.C.) told Tom Brokaw on "Meet the Press" that the party still didn't have the votes to pass the Senate plan but quickly pivoted to note that he was "very confident that we will get this done." Republicans, confident that they hold the political high ground in the debate, denounced the bill (and the tactics being used to pass it) in strong terms -- a precursor of what's to come in the fall campaign if the legislation goes through. Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation" called the Democratic approach in these final days "the most brazen act of political arrogance that I can remember since the Watergate era." House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) told CNN's Candy Crowley that the White House and Democratic leaders took "a couple of Republican bread crumbs and put them on top of their 2,700-page bill," stressing that this was not bipartisan legislation. As the Post's Dan Eggen notes in his story Monday on the jockeying over health care, it's not entirely clear yet whether Democratic optimism is born out of a knowledge that the votes will be there for health care or rather an attempt to build some sort of momentum behind the legislation. (White House pollster Joel Benenson penned an op-ed in the Post over the weekend making the momentum case for the bill.) One important thing to remember amid all of the health care hullabaloo set for this week; a new Gallup poll found that health care (20 percent) ranked behind unemployment (31 percent) and the economy in general (24 percent) when Americans were asked to name the most important problem facing the country. Health care does -- and will -- matter to voters but the economy and jobs still look like they will still have the most influence over voters this fall.

Months after last health vote, many Dems in tougher reelection races
Thirty-two House Democrats are in tougher reelection races than they were when the lower chamber passed healthcare reform last fall. The gloomier political climate for Democrats has made it more challenging for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her lieutenants to attract the 216 votes necessary to pass a health reform bill this month. Seventeen Democrats who were not on the radar screen of campaign handicappers in November are now in competitive races, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Meanwhile, the races of 15 Democrats have become tighter, increasing the chances the GOP could win them. Of the 32 Democrats, 25 voted in favor of the House healthcare bill on Nov. 7, 2009.

House Democrats release bill for Budget markup Monday
Excerpt: House Democrats on Sunday night set into motion what they hope will be the final steps on healthcare reform. The House Budget Committee on Sunday evening released text that will serve as the base legislation for the changes the House will seek to the Senate bill this week. Specifically, the Budget committee released a 2,309-page effort that had been previously recommended to the Education and Labor Committee and Ways and Means Committee last year. The measure posted online does not include the substantive changes to the Senate healthcare bill that House Democrats will seek. Those changes will be offered during the markups in the Budget and Rules committees, which the budget panel hopes to begin on Monday afternoon. The House is expected to approve the Senate's healthcare bill along with the package of changes. The Senate would then be expected to approve the package of changes under budget reconciliation rules. Because the bill will be considered under budget reconciliation rules in the Senate, GOP senators will not be able to filibuster the package and Democrats will not need 60 votes to move the legislation through the Senate. The House has demanded the Senate approve changes to its healthcare bill in exchange for the House voting for the Senate bill.

Rep. Paul Ryan on what real health reform should look like
Excerpt: Today, the House Budget Committee is to mark up a "reconciliation" vehicle, initiating the greatest expansion in government and entitlement spending in a generation through a partisan process to push "health-care reform" across the finish line. Despite claims of transparency and calls for a "simple up-or-down vote," there is nothing simple about this process. This convoluted legislative charade demonstrates how far the Democratic majority has wandered from real health-care reform and cost control, employing any means to achieve political victory. Through any analytical lens, the legislation will not address the central problem of skyrocketing health-care costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that families' premiums could rise 10 to 13 percent; private-sector actuarial estimates top these already high numbers. The higher costs are driven by federalizing the regulation of insurance, narrowing consumers' options and reducing competition among providers. The health-care market would be dominated by government programs and the largest insurance companies, operating as de facto government utilities. Rather than tackle the drivers of health inflation, the legislation chases the ever-increasing premiums with huge new subsidies. Already, Washington has no idea how to pay for the unfunded promises in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- and creating this new entitlement would accelerate our path to fiscal ruin. When you strip away the double-counting, expose the hidden costs that must be funded and look at the price tag when the legislation is fully implemented, the claims of deficit reduction are as hollow as claims of cost containment.

Nancy Pelosi's strategy for passing health-care reform
If this doesn’t work, they’ll set fire to the Reichstag and blame it on the Tea Parties. Excerpt: "My biggest fight has been between those who wanted to do something incremental and those who wanted to do something comprehensive," Nancy Pelosi said in a meeting with reporters this morning. "We won that fight, and once we kick through this door, there'll be more legislation to follow." Easier said than done, as anyone who's been watching this process knows. Democrats have been on the verge of passing health-care reform for many months now, but for all the doors they've kicked in, they've found more doors waiting on the other side. But today, Pelosi made her clearest statements yet on how she means to finish this bill. The issue is how to sequence the Senate health bill, which the House doesn't like, with the package of fixes (including, Pelosi said, the elimination of the Nebraska and Florida deals, the delay of the excise tax, more affordability and oversight provisions and more funding of community health centers), which the House does like. There are a number of procedural options on the table, but today, Pelosi said that she favors the “deem and pass” strategy. Here's how that will work: Rather than passing the Senate bill and then passing the fixes, the House will pass the fixes under a rule that says the House "deems" the Senate bill passed after the House passes the fixes. The virtue of this, for Pelosi's members, is that they don't actually vote on the Senate bill. They only vote on the reconciliation package. But their vote on the reconciliation package functions as a vote on the Senate bill. The difference is semantic, but the bottom line is this: When the House votes on the reconciliation fixes, the Senate bill is passed, even if the Senate hasn't voted on the reconciliation fixes, and even though the House never specifically voted on the Senate bill. It's a circuitous strategy born of necessity. Pelosi doesn't have votes for the Senate bill without the reconciliation package. But the Senate parliamentarian said that the Senate bill must be signed into law before the reconciliation package can be signed into law. That removed Pelosi's favored option of passing the reconciliation fixes before passing the Senate bill. So now the House will vote on reconciliation explicitly and the Senate bill implicitly, which is politically easier, even though the effect is not any different than if Congress were to pass the Senate bill first and pass the reconciliation fixes after. This is all about plausible deniability for House members who don't want to vote for the Senate bill, although I doubt many voters will find the denials plausible.

Understanding how bureaucratic systems work
Excerpt: I am one of very few capitalists you know (probably the only one, actually) who is intensely interested in understanding who gets what under socialism. At the other end of the spectrum, almost every socialist I know is focused only on the idea of socialism and has very little interest in discovering how socialist systems actually function. So, what you are about to read, I am afraid, is something you are unlikely to find in any other place. Suppose the government nationalizes the school system and makes schooling available for free. Without knowing any institutional details, could you predict in advance which students will end up in the classroom of the best teacher? How about the worst teacher? And how will the other students be sorted in between? I certainly could not predict with any accuracy. But I can almost guarantee you the students will not be distributed randomly. I can also almost guarantee you that the distribution will not be independent of the parents’ income, wealth and social status. Similarly, suppose the government nationalizes the health care system and makes medical services available for free. Without knowing any institutional details, could you predict in advance which patients will be seeing the best doctors and entering the best facilities? How about the worst doctors and the worst facilities? Again, I can virtually guarantee you that the patients will not be distributed randomly and that the distribution will not be independent of income and social status.

Question: Could the President of the United States be arrested for illegally signing a fraudulent bill?
HillBuzz is the leftwing Hillary support group that started the “birther” movement against BO. Excerpt: Here’s the sort of BizarroWorld question normally reserved for the latter half of a season of 24, where Jack Bauer’s up against a corrupt, out of control President who’s committed murder, plotted against the Constitution, or has attempted to otherwise destroy the United States he or she swore to protect and defend. We wonder if the President of the United States can ever legally be arrested for a crime. We believe the current administration has already committed several instances of an arrestable offense: the attempted bribing, for political reasons, of various individuals using federal jobs as said bribes. This happened on at least two occasions: Joe Sestak, who the White House tried to bribe with the Secretary of the Navy position to stay out of Arlen Specter’s Senate race, and Andrew Romanoff, who the White House tried to bribe with a job in the Interior Department so he would stay out of the Colorado Senate race.
Someone in the White House, possibly Rahm Emanuel and/or David Axelrod, should do jail time for that. But, we don’t think the chain of culpability on the bribes will ever lead right up to Dr. Utopia, the illustrious current president, himself.

Insurers Gone Wild!
Excerpt: "We allow the insurance industry to run wild in this country," President Obama declared on Monday. "We can't have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people." Yet Obama's plan to tame health insurers would boost their business, protect them from competition and guarantee their profits, all at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. It is therefore not surprising that the insurance companies, while they object to the president's rhetoric and quibble over some of the details, are happy to be domesticated. Here are five ways in which Obama would help insurers while pretending to fight them:

The Land of Entitlements
The collapse is coming. Excerpt: Even though more than half of government spending goes to entitlements, the era of entitlements is a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of our country. Democrats are eager to defend creating yet another health care entitlement by flatly stating that "everybody loves Medicare." To put this in context, one must realize that there are no Medicare recipients alive today who have firsthand knowledge of being without Medicare while elderly. Some may remember their parents or grandparents surviving well into old age without Medicare, but not themselves. Very few alive today remember a time without Social Security. Within the space of a human lifespan, our society has become a culture conditioned to accept (and expect) entitlements as the norm without questioning the consequences. It has been a very effective strategy to enlarge government. Social Security was enacted in 1935 (75 years ago). The country was suffering in the Great Depression. Communism was actually popular in this country at the time. The very concept was unprecedented. It is important to realize that the average life expectancy in 1935 (all races, both sexes) was 61. Social Security was originally intended to provide supplemental retirement income for workers (and their spouses) after they retired and reached the age of 65. At the time Social Security was enacted, it was palatable to the American public and a reasonably safe bet for the federal government. Most people didn't live long enough to become eligible. For several decades, Social Security did not appear to be the obvious Ponzi scheme that it is. At its inception, there were something like sixteen workers for every Social Security recipient, and the associated payroll taxes were low. Left alone, Social Security would be solvent to this day and perhaps far into the future. But things changed. Before too long, Social Security was funding all sorts of things for which it was never intended (e.g., disability and dependent children). Congress viewed it as a giant vote-buying machine. Further, they saw that great big pile of money from Social Security payroll taxes and couldn't help but spend it and replace it with worthless IOUs. Perhaps more worrisome, within thirty years of Social Security's being enacted, the average life expectancy increased to about 70. As a result, over time, there were more and more living eligible recipients and fewer workers per recipient. By this time, it was politically impossible to stop the Social Security juggernaut. Every worker who had been taxed for this entitlement expected to receive it. Many had parents or grandparents who had come to depend on their Social Security payments. What was originally envisioned as a supplemental income came to be viewed as a total government-funded pension. If the money collected through payroll taxes had not been spent as fast as it came in, Social Security might still be solvent today. But this is not the case. Estimates vary, but right now, the Social Security Administration is posting an unfunded liability of about $38 trillion. The current worker-to-recipient ratio is just under 3:1 and is expected to reach 2:1 within only a few years as baby boomers start to retire. For the first time, Social Security is paying out more in benefits than it is collecting in payroll taxes. The nation is staring down the barrel of a very real financial crisis...and politicians are fretting about the planet being slightly warmer ninety years from now. Had Social Security never been enacted, or (at least) had it been reformed when we had a chance, our country would be in much better financial health now. I clearly remember my father complaining that my maternal grandparents drew far more from Social Security than they ever paid in. This is probably true for every generation ever since Social Security was enacted. My father passed away last year at the age of 90 (he retired when he was 63) and my mother is still alive at age 87. They have drawn many times more from Social Security than they ever contributed. We are today witnessing the inevitable implosion of the largest Ponzi scheme ever devised by mankind. Social Security essentially defines "unsustainable." We can buy some time, but none of the necessary measures are palatable to either politicians or the American public. The obvious remedies are to raise the age of eligibility to at least 70 (today the average life expectancy is nearly 79), increase Social Security withholding taxes, establish some form of means testing (i.e., don't pay Social Security benefits to retiring millionaires), and perhaps somehow correlate total lifetime benefits paid with total contributions. These measures will buy us time, but they won't fix the fundamental problem. In short, it is utterly impossible to continue down the path FDR established 75 years ago. If Social Security doesn't pose enough of a threat, then there's this: Left unchecked, Medicare will utterly bankrupt the nation. Medicare was enacted in 1965 following other "Great Society" welfare measures. At the time, the average life expectancy was 70. More significantly, medical care was not as sophisticated or expensive as it is today. There were few effective interventions for the big killers -- cardiovascular disease and cancer -- in 1965. Who could have predicted the absolute explosion in medical and pharmacologic innovation? Who could have anticipated that life expectancy would continue to increase?

Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs
Excerpt: The retirement nest egg of an entire generation is stashed away in this small town along the Ohio River: $2.5 trillion in IOUs from the federal government, payable to the Social Security Administration. It's time to start cashing them in. For more than two decades, Social Security collected more money in payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits — billions more each year. Not anymore. This year, for the first time since the 1980s, when Congress last overhauled Social Security, the retirement program is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes — nearly $29 billion more. Sounds like a good time to start tapping the nest egg. Too bad the federal government already spent that money over the years on other programs, preferring to borrow from Social Security rather than foreign creditors. In return, the Treasury Department issued a stack of IOUs — in the form of Treasury bonds — which are kept in a nondescript office building just down the street from Parkersburg's municipal offices.

Democrats, Forever Changed
Excerpt: By pressing ahead on health care, President Obama is ending a decades-long internal debate within his party—and the Democratic Party will never be the same.
In 2004, Howard Dean ran as the suberjumbo candidate for president, insisting that his opponents for the Democratic nomination, most of whom had supported the Iraq War, needed a “backbone transplant.” Dean lost, but his message won. His campaign helped to catalyze the “netroots”—blogs like Daily Kos and organizations like MoveOn—which told the story of the bear a very different way. In their version, Democrats didn’t get mauled because they made sudden, aggressive moves. After all, the Clinton and Bush-era Democrats hadn’t been aggressive at all. They had been mauled for precisely the opposite reason: because they didn’t fight back. Show the bear that you’re not afraid, they argued—look tough and defiant rather than timid and craven—and you’ll gain respect. In 2006, two liberal social scientists, John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira, answered Galston and Kamarck’s 1989 essay in a paper entitled, “The Politics of Definition.” The ideological climate, they argued, wasn’t inhospitable to liberals. It was inhospitable to weathervanes. If Democrats defined themselves—if they stood up for their beliefs in the face of political threats—they would win in the end. Now it is over. When Scott Brown won his Senate seat, he made Obama choose. On the one hand, he handed the White House an excuse to abandon comprehensive reform and return to the incremental, small-bore approach that Clinton pursued after 1994. The Brown victory, in fact, seemed to illustrate the “don’t scare the bear” theory perfectly. Obama had passed the stimulus and bailed out the banks and taken over part of the auto industry and for the American people, it was too much liberal activism too fast. Polls not only showed Americans turning against Obama’s health care bill, they showed them turning against big government more generally. Continuing to pursue comprehensive reform in this inhospitable environment, warned former Carter pollster Patrick Caddell and former Clinton pollster Douglas Schoen, in language that echoed “the Politics of Evasion,” would bring political calamity. “Wishing, praying or pretending” that the American people support health care reform more than they do, they insisted, “will not change these outcomes.” Why exactly Obama—advised by David Axelrod, Rahm Emmanuel and Valerie Jarrett—decided to double down on health care remains unclear. But it’s a good bet that President Hillary Clinton—advised by Mark Penn—would have acted differently. And in acting the way he did, Obama has turned himself into a superjumbo Democrat. For the foreseeable future, he has forfeited any chance of bridging the red-blue divide. Prominent Republicans have already announced that if Democrats try to pass health care via reconciliation, they will not work across the aisle to pass anything major this year. Conversely, Obama has cemented his bond with the netroots. It doesn’t really matter that the health care reform bill he is fighting for isn’t particularly left-wing. For the netroots, a politicians’ ideological purity has always been less important than his willingness to resist pressure from the other side, which is exactly what Obama has just done.

Green Jobs Obsession Distracts From Real Economic Recovery
Excerpt: The new budget doubles down with similar "'green"' investments: Hundreds of millions for the research and development of new energy technologies. Billions of tax breaks for companies investing in clean energy projects. And $74 million for initiatives to "'inspire tens of thousands of young Americans to pursue a career in clean energy."' Taxpayers should be warned that creating a "'green job"' can be expensive, says Lukas: One report examining state and local efforts to encourage the creation of "'green jobs"' found that the subsidies sometimes exceed $100,000 per job created. Other analysts have pointed out that much of money targeted for "'green job"' creation is being sent overseas. ABC News reported that nearly 80 percent of the close to $2 billion in the stimulus bill dedicated to wind power went to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines.

Maryland's Mobile Millionaires: Income tax rates go up, rich taxpayers vanish.
Why “soaking the rich” doesn’t work. Excerpt: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is the latest Democrat to demand a tax increase, this week proposing to raise the state's top marginal individual income tax rate to 4% from 3%. He'd better hope this works out better than it has for Maryland. We reported in May that after passing a millionaire surtax nearly one-third of Maryland's millionaires had gone missing, thus contributing to a decline in state revenues. The politicians in Annapolis had said they'd collect $106 million by raising its income tax rate on millionaire households to 6.25% from 4.75%. In cities like Baltimore and Bethesda, which apply add-on income taxes, the top tax rate with the surcharge now reaches as high as 9.3%—fifth highest in the nation. Liberals said this was based on incomplete data and that rich Marylanders hadn't fled the state. Well, the state comptroller's office now has the final tax return data for 2008, the first year that the higher tax rates applied. The number of millionaire tax returns fell sharply to 5,529 from 7,898 in 2007, a 30% tumble. The taxes paid by rich filers fell by 22%, and instead of their payments increasing by $106 million, they fell by some $257 million. Yes, a big part of that decline results from the recession that eroded incomes, especially from capital gains. But there is also little doubt that some rich people moved out or filed their taxes in other states with lower burdens. One-in-eight millionaires who filed a Maryland tax return in 2007 filed no return in 2008. Some died, but the others presumably changed their state of residence. (Hint to the class warfare crowd: A lot of rich people have two homes.) A Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysis of federal tax return data on people who migrated from one state to another found that Maryland lost $1 billion of its net tax base in 2008 by residents moving to other states. That's income that's now being taxed and is financing services in Virginia, South Carolina and elsewhere.

Three with links to U.S. Consulate in Juarez are slain
This war is rapidly spilling over into the US. Excerpt: Assailants gunned down three people returning from a party at a U.S. Consulate employee's home in the Mexican city of Juarez, including a pregnant U.S. government employee and her husband, in two attacks a few minutes apart that prompted a furious response from the White House on Sunday. The White House said President Obama was "deeply saddened and outraged" by the slayings, which occurred in broad daylight. They appeared to be the latest sign of the surge of drug violence in Mexico in recent years, which has claimed thousands of lives in border areas such as Ciudad Juarez. But it was unusual for U.S. citizens to be slain -- particularly an American government employee.

A Fight To The Death
"I cherished the nonsense, Hugh. The nonsense got me through the Battle of Guadalcanal,” Sidney Phillips said in 2004, chuckling before taking a pull on his cigar. It was always this way with combat veterans, I thought. They begin with the funny stories. That was the first evening I spent with Sid on the back porch of his home near Mobile, Ala., but as a result of my work as the historical consultant for The Pacific, it was followed by countless phone calls, e-mails, and visits. Through my interviews with Sid and hundreds of other veterans, I came to realize the essential truth about the battle in the Pacific. Today many Americans think of World War II as one monumental event, but it was actually two distinct wars. In the battle against Germany in Europe and Africa, U.S. soldiers understood that one side would force the other to surrender. But in the Pacific theater, the troops fought knowing that their war would end only when one side annihilated the other. On Dec. 7, 1941, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Sid and his best friend, Eugene Sledge, thought that the war was about vengeance. America had to defend itself and its allies. Since Gene’s mother wouldn’t sign his enlistment papers, Sid rode his bicycle alone to join up the next day. The Marine Corps recruiter pledged to put the 17-year-old “eyeball to eyeball with the Japs.” Thinking back, the retired physician’s blue eyes twinkled. “It was the only thing that recruiter didn’t lie about.” Handsome and articulate, Sid made the war seem almost a lark. His unit walked ashore on Guadalcanal, causing an enemy garrison to flee. Japanese ships soon returned and drove off the U.S. Navy, leaving the Marines with only captured rice to eat. A prankster wrote a menu and hung it at the mess hall. It had entrees like “Jap rice without corned beef” and desserts like “Jap rice without peaches.” Sid paused in his telling and added, “And you could choose whatever you wanted from the menu.” This was the kind of light story he told whenever the topic of “The War” came up. Sid’s combat was intense yet infrequent. From his foxhole one night, he watched battleships from the two sides face off. “We thought we were winning,” he said. “Every time a ship blew up, we’d cheer.” In the morning, he learned that the Japanese had triumphed. Intense ground fighting began shortly afterward. Sid’s unit had to hold the line against soldiers led by officers screaming “ Banzai!” and clambering over piles of their own dead.

Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants
Excerpt: While it has been widely reported that the C.I.A. and the military are attacking operatives of Al Qaeda and others through unmanned, remote-controlled drone strikes, some American officials say they became troubled that Mr. Furlong seemed to be running an off-the-books spy operation. The officials say they are not sure who condoned and supervised his work. (A Marine buddy responds: Well, thank you very much, New York Times, for this fine article COMPLETE WITH PICTURES of the contractors. Why not just publish a "Wanted, Dead or Alive" poster? What it sounds like from the story is two guys from CNN wanted help paying for local TV/Internet news in Afghanistan, were told they could have "some financial support," got unhappy about the amount they received, and told their leftist buddies at NYT. Maybe Osama will send CNN and NYT some "additional support." Ron P.)

Gitmo's Indefensible Lawyers
Legal counsel to some of the detainees went far beyond vigorous representation of their clients. Doesn't the public have a right to know?
The left loathes America so much, it works for the victory of the vicious tyranny of Shari’a law and the Islamists. Excerpt: On the evening of Jan. 26, 2006, military guards at Guantanamo Bay made an alarming discovery during a routine cell check. Lying on the bed of a Saudi detainee was an 18-page color brochure. The cover consisted of the now famous photograph of newly-arrived detainees dressed in orange jumpsuits—masked, bound and kneeling on the ground at Camp X-Ray—just four months after 9/11. Written entirely in Arabic, it also included pictures of what appeared to be detainee operations in Iraq. Major General Jay W. Hood, then the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, concurred with the guards that this represented a serious breach of security. Maj. Gen. Hood asked his Islamic cultural adviser to translate. The cover read: "Cruel. Inhuman. Degrades Us All: Stop Torture and Ill-Treatment in the 'War on Terror.'" It was published by Amnesty International in the United Kingdom and portrayed America and its allies as waging a campaign of torture against Muslims around the globe. "One thread that runs through many of the testimonies from prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq, and from Guantanamo," the brochure read, "is that of anti-Arab, anti-Islamic, and other racist abuse." How did the detainee get it? More importantly, who gave it to him? Majeed Abdullah Al Joudi, the detainee in whose cell the brochure was first found, told guards he received the brochure from his lawyer. An investigation by JTF-GTMO personnel revealed that Julia Tarver Mason, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, had sent it to Al Joudi and eight of the firm's other detainee clients through "legal mail"—a designation for privileged lawyer-client communications that are exempt from screening by security personnel. Worse, the investigation showed that Ms. Mason's clients passed it to other detainees not represented by Paul, Weiss lawyers. In all, more than a dozen detainees received a copy. At Guantanamo, "legal mail" is strictly limited to correspondence between counsel and a detainee that is related to representation of the detainee, privileged documents and publicly filed legal documents. But even "legal mail," according to the rules mandated by Judge Joyce Hens Green in a 2004 protective order, prohibits lawyers from giving detainees information relating to military operations, intelligence, arrests, political news and current events, and the names of U.S. government personnel. Lawyers are forbidden from discussing other detainee cases not directly related to the representation of their own client. The Amnesty International brochure, handed out at a human rights conference in London, was a political advocacy screed in clear violation of that order, which was formulated to protect force security. Maj. Gen. Hood made a command decision. He banned the Paul, Weiss lawyers from access to Guantanamo. The DOJ notified the firm.

Al-Qaida suspect from US tricked his Yemeni guard
You can trust a fellow Muslim, right? Excerpt: The U.S. al-Qaida suspect detained in Yemen had persuaded his guard to unshackle him so the two could pray together and then snatched his unattended gun and killed him during the suspect's failed escape attempt, senior security officials said Saturday. Sharif Mobley, a 26-year-old American of Somali descent, had traveled to Yemen two years ago, ostensibly to study Arabic, and was recently arrested there in a sweep against al-Qaida. Mobley made his bold escape attempt March 7 after being transferred from prison to a hospital in the capital, San'a, for medical treatment. He tried to shoot his way out of the hospital, killing one guard and seriously injuring another before being recaptured.

Obama at the Bat

1 comment:

  1. Since I gave the Democratic National Committee $10 last year, I get all kinds of great propaganda which lets me peer into the minds of liberals. One of the “benefits” is I am on the “Organizing For America” email list which enabled me to receive the solicitation below. If you go to their website, they have the following sample letter created to be sent to your legislator asking them to vote for health reform (aka Obamacare).

    Here is their standard letter:

    Subject: I stand with the President for health reform

    Dear Representative ______,

    I'm writing to let you know that I support health insurance reform, and I hope you will reconsider your opposition.

    I don't support favoring big insurance companies over the American people, and I'm not alone -- voters in our state have pledged 400,168 volunteer hours to fight for candidates who support reform.

    Your constituents are counting on you to place our well-being over partisan game-playing. Please support reform.

    Thank you.

    Here is the version I sent from their website (assuming they didn’t block it when they read the modified Subject)

    Subject: Please Stand Firm for Individual Freedom- Obamacare Would Be a Disaster

    Dear Representative Biggert,

    I'm writing to let you know that I support health insurance reform as outlined by Paul Ryan and I hope you will stand firm against the big government takeover attempt by Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

    I don't support favoring big government over the American people, and I'm not alone -- many voters in Illinois have pledged hours to fight for candidates who vote against government takeover and for sensible cost reduction ideas such as enabling health insurance purchases across state lines, tax deduction for health insurance purchases and limits on tort punitive damages.

    Your constituents are counting on you to place our well-being over partisan game-playing. Please support Paul Ryan's proposals and vote against the dangerous, freedom limiting big government takeover. Government has never been able to efficiently run anything (Medicare is broke and Cash for Clunkers was a disaster even at 1/1000th the size of health care).

    Thank you for standing with freedom-loving Americans.


    Howard W. Beatty
    Naperville, IL