Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Political Digest April 15, 2010

Home late on the 14th. Happy tax day and happy birthday to me.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Revolution
Excerpt: There's a before and an after. One moment, you're one way. And then, in the blink of an eye, you're different. An instant before my parents died, I still felt like a child, though I was knee-deep in middle age. But when they passed, three weeks apart, suddenly I grew up...just like that. While that experience was seismic, it doesn't compare to my sea change upon Obama's ascension. One minute I was a leftist, despising this country and all it stood for. And then, abruptly and astonishingly, I became a conservative. I had been enamored of progressivism, socialism, all the other "isms." But when Obama came on the scene and liberals starting acting like maniacs, I viewed the underbelly of the Left. And that was it. In the blink of an eye, I saw that liberalism had rotted away. In time, I discovered that progressivism was a bogus idea to begin with.

Give It Arrest
Excerpt: Decades ago, I joined the Sherlock Holmes Society and retraced the great fictional detective’s footsteps through Victorian London. The stories were clever, but also understandable. Whether it was assault, robbery or fraud, it was easy to identify the culprit’s criminal acts. In the 21st century American legal system, things are no longer so clear. Consider Lindsay Brown, a high-school senior jailed for having a butter knife in her car. Or Cortez Curtis, a 13-year-old arrested for bringing a calculator that contained tools (including a tiny knife blade) to school. Or 12-year-old Ansche Hedgepeth, handcuffed and detained for eating one French fry on the D.C. subway. Or 61-year-old Kay Leibrand, booked for allowing her hedges to grow too tall.

Obama to the World: Damn America, Full Speed Ahead
Excerpt: In February 1945, three world leaders—FDR, Stalin and Churchill—gathered in Yalta, in Crimea, to discuss the fate of post-war Europe. At that conference, FDR signed away half of Germany, all of Poland, enslavement of the German population to the Soviet Union. While the conference suggested that liberated countries would be granted free elections, no enforcement mechanism was put in place, so the Soviets effectively annexed every piece of land they occupied. FDR insisted he had not been duped. “Poor Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust Hitler,” FDR said days after the conference. “He was wrong. But I don’t think I’m wrong about Stalin.” FDR was wrong about Stalin, of course. But he had reason to be wrong—he had been misinformed by his own supposed allies. Soviet agent Alger Hiss worked as part of the American delegation at Yalta; communist superspy Kim Philby and the rest of the so-called “Cambridge Five” funneled papers from the British and the Americans regarding their positions on Poland. So it’s fair to let FDR off the hook, at least minimally, for Yalta. Not so with President Obama. He is busily Yalta-ing the United States and her allies knowing full well that the free world will suffer for it.

Arizona passes strict illegal immigration act,0,6695063.story
Excerpt: Some Republicans have privately complained about the bill, which Pearce has been pushing for several years, but were loath to vote against it in an election year. The House was scheduled to approve it last week but the vote was delayed until Tuesday to give sponsors a chance to round up enough votes. It picked up steam after the killing late last month of a rancher on the Arizona side of the Mexican border. Footprints from the crime scene led back to Mexico.

Flag-waving harder at Capitol
The left has managed to restrict political speech—the carrying of flags—using the myth of tea party violence they created.

Why the FCC's Broadband Plans Got Smacked Down
Excerpt: While a defeat for the FCC, the unanimous decision was a victory for the rule of law. The court affirmed the fundamental principle that an administrative agency cannot act outside the scope of authority delegated by Congress. The Commission argued that, even though Congress might not have delegated specific authority to regulate Internet providers, it possesses "ancillary" jurisdiction to do so in order to fulfill other statutory responsibilities. For the court, this claim constituted a bridge too far. If the agency's argument were accepted, the court said, "it would virtually free the Commission from its congressional tether." Under the agency's theory, "we see no reason why the Commission would have to stop there." Beyond its rule of law implications, the court decision is significant because the FCC had no intention of stopping "there." Indeed, last October it proposed a broader set of so-called net neutrality regulations dictating Internet provider practices. In essence, these new regulations would strictly prohibit Internet providers from "discriminating" in any way in handling traffic on their networks, including charging differential prices for carrying Internet transmissions.

Voice of America becoming Voice of the mullahs
Excerpt: The Voice of America is becoming the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Recent programming choices have revealed a creeping bias toward opponents of the pro-democracy movement and de facto supporters of the regime. This ill befits the VOA mission and the purpose of U.S. public diplomacy. On March 17, Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican, sent a letter to President Obama signed by 69 members of Congress requesting that the White House "investigate reported mismanagement and bias at Voice of America's Persian News Network (VOA-PNN)." The lawmakers expressed concern over "the apparent lack of oversight regarding the management, staffing, mission and content of VOA-PNN broadcasting." The letter notes that the service "may have harmed the plight of those seeking human rights, rather than helping it." Cases in point are two recent VOA broadcasts that gave preferred treatment to pro-regime messages. On March 29, VOA-PNN interviewed Hooshang Amir-Ahmadi, an anti-sanctions activist called "Iran's pseudo U.S. lobbyist" by Iranian democracy groups. Mr. Amir-Ahmadi expressed the view that Iran's belligerent posture and nuclear program are the natural results of being surrounded by U.S. missiles and bombs; hence, progress can come only through the United States softening its policies toward Tehran.

Northern Exposures
Excerpt: he newest Russian national security strategy, released in May of last year, warns that within a decade nations could be at war over resources in the Arctic Ocean.1 In language reminiscent of the “correlation of forces” hand-wringing of the 1970s, Moscow’s strategy states that Arctic resources will become the “critical point for the world military balance.” How fortunate for Russia, seeing as how that high-latitude nation, wrapping 170 degrees around the Arctic Circle, dominates the geography of the polar north. Russia, a country said to “think like the North and drink like the North”, has embarked on a project to ensure that it becomes the first Arctic superpower. In 2001, Russia was the first state to file a continental shelf claim under the Law of the Sea Convention for exclusive rights to the oil and mineral resources beneath the Arctic seabed. Canada and Denmark (the latter with Greenland) have protested the claim. Russia’s cheeky 2007 stunt to plant a flag fashioned from titanium on the seabed of the North Pole is but the overture of the geostrategic opera now playing out in the High North. Subsequent acts—long-range Tupelov-95 “Bear” and Tupelov-160 “Blackjack” strategic bomber flights over the Arctic, renewed after a 15-year suspension—are raising hackles in Canada and Norway. Flush with petrodollars, Moscow clearly sees the Arctic as a key to sustaining its stream of oil, gas and mineral wealth well into the future. All of which raises the question: Is the warning contained in the new Russian strategy a cold-blooded strategic prediction, a sign of practical intent, or mere bluster from a nation still smarting from wounded pride since the demise of the Soviet Union?

Neil Armstrong blasts Obama’s ‘devastating’ NASA cuts
Excerpt: Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, has launched an unprecedented attack on President Obama’s plans to dismantle Nasa’s manned space exploration programme. The world’s best-known astronaut, who has traditionally avoided controversy and rarely seeks the limelight despite his feat 41 years ago, warned that Mr Obama risks blasting American space superiority on a “long downhill slide to mediocrity”.

President Obama still sitting pretty in advance of 2012
Excerpt: Republicans have made up significant electoral ground since President Obama swept into office in November 2008 but the chief executive remains a clear favorite against all of his potential 2012 GOP opponents, according to a new national poll conducted for CNN by the Opinion Research Corporation. Obama is over 50 percent against all of the most-often-mentioned Republican candidates. His narrowest margin -- eight points -- comes in a matchup with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney while his widest lead of 13 points is in a face off against former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is the leader in the hypothetical 2012 Republican primary matchup with 24 percent followed by Romney at 20 percent, Palin at 15 percent and former House speaker Newt Gingrich(Ga.) at 14 percent.

Another Obama favor for unions
Paid for by the rest of us. Excerpt: Barely 15 percent of all construction-industry workers in the United States are union members, while the remaining 85 percent are nonunion, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. So why has President Obama signed Executive Order 13502 directing federal agencies taking bids for government construction projects to accept only those from contractors who agree in advance to a project labor agreement that requires a union work force? Obama's new order applies to all federal construction projects with price tags of $25 million or more, and it means all such contracts will only be awarded to companies with unionized work forces.

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