Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Political Digest May 12, 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. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with them. I have to say all this to give some of my critics the benefit of the doubt, assuming they are thick, rather than deliberately taking things the wrong way.

Some families face higher health premiums to insure adult children
An outrage. Everything should be free like in Greece! Excerpt: Some families could pay a price if they seize the chance offered by the new health-care law to keep children up to age 26 on their insurance policies, regulations drafted by the Obama administration show. Until 2014, when health plans will be prohibited from charging higher premiums based on preexisting conditions, insurers in the individual market can take into account the young adult's medical condition when setting the family's premium. In addition, under certain circumstances, families could be required to pay extra to carry young adults on their policies. The regulations published Monday also explain that there is an exception to the expanded coverage. The provision "applies only to health insurance plans that offer dependent coverage in the first place: while most insurers and employer-sponsored plans offer dependent coverage, there is no requirement to do so," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Monday.

Oil Removal - It's As Simple As Hay
Be interesting to see if anything comes of this. Take a LOT of hey for that much oil, I’d think. Excerpt: Otis Goodson has discovered what could potentially be the saving Grace for the Gulf of Mexico. And it’s as simple as hay. Otis was in his barn, thinking about the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill and wondering what he could do to help. Looking around, he began to wonder if the hay in his barn could be used to soak up oil.

Report details depravity of SEALs' accuser
Excerpt: The just-concluded military trials of three exonerated Navy SEALs showed the terrorism suspect at the center of the case to be one of the most dangerous men in Iraq.
Ahmed Hashim Abed initially was described as the insurgent who planned the killings of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah in 2004, with two of their charred bodies infamously hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River. But the three SEALs who captured Abed — and were court-martialed afterward — nabbed a far more notorious figure, according to trial testimony and an intelligence report. Abed is thought to have committed a series of killings, including beheadings, in western Anbar province as a leading al Qaeda operative. He remains in an Iraqi prison awaiting trial in that country's criminal court system.

Worth Reading: When the Left Cares, and When It Doesn't
Excerpt: Left wing artists love to portray themselves as avatars of compassion, and are often praised by the media and cultural establishment for the humanity their political work supposedly demonstrates. But theirs is a highly selective compassion, often ignoring the victims of the groups they supported….. How genuine is DePalma's compassion for these "suffering people"? By the time he made Casualties of War in 1989, the world was well aware of the Vietnamese Boat People, as many as a million or more, who fled after South Vietnam fell to the communists. No one knows how many perished at sea or were killed by pirates, but estimates are as high as a hundred thousand or more. As many as 165,000 Vietnamese died in the brutal re-education camps. Neither DePalma nor any other big Hollywood director, and I use the term "Hollywood" generically for the motion picture industry, made a movie about them…. There is more genuine compassion in the average American warrior than in a dozen Hollywood anti-war activists patting each other on the back for their "bravery" in dissenting from a war fought by truly brave men and women enduring hardship and separation from loved ones to protect our freedoms and our civilization, whose fruits are bestowed so lavishly on the likes of Brian DePalma.

Atrocities During the Vietnam War
Excerpt: The actions of armies in war have seldom been as humane as the modern American military -- in the 20th Century alone there are boundless documented examples of horrific acts by the Germans, the Japanese and the Soviet Red Army in World War II, or by North Korea in the 1950s, and others later than that. Before the 20th Century, ugly butchery was common in war. In Vietnam specifically, the Communist forces regularly perpetrated atrocities on Americans as well as the Vietnamese civilian population. A few examples: In battles at Ia Drang (23 October to 20 November 1965), NVA troops slaughtered U.S. wounded. Most bodies recovered were shot in the head or back. At other locations, wounded American soldiers were tied to trees, tortured, and then murdered. On 6 December 1967, Viet Cong massacred 252 civilians in a vengeance attack on Dak Son, an anti-communist Montagnard village. During the 1968 Tet offensive, the North Vietnamese massacred 5,800 civilians at Hue Terrorism was an integral part of Communist strategy in Vietnam; terrorist attacks in Saigon regularly killed innocent women and children. Khmer Rouge (Cambodian Communists) were particularly brutal; as guerrillas they slaughtered whole villages -- after gaining power estimates of dead from their actions run into millions. Treatment of prisoners in Communist camps included routine brutality along with torture and psychological abuse. In total, from 1957 to 1973, the Viet Cong assassinated 36,725 South Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The VC death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, civil engineers, and schoolteachers. For the Communist forces, atrocities were a matter of policy and were not hidden or punished. Despite continuous commission of such atrocities, and many more small scale sadistic acts designed to terrorize U.S. troops and punish cooperating Vietnamese, many people cling to the belief that U.S. troops were barbaric while the Communist forces were noble freedom fighters. This is partially a media-created paradigm, based on over-reporting of U.S. or South Vietnamese faults while under-reporting the others. It is also based on endless repeating of a few true stories of U.S. transgressions along with the creation of myths about other events that did not happen or were wildly exaggerated.

Naval Power: Robert Gates Is No Henry Knox
Excerpt: This past Monday Secretary of Defense Robert Gates took on the U.S. Navy. In a speech to the Navy League he basically said that virtually the entire structure of today’s Navy was irrelevant to the threats of the future and too expensive to continue to build. Secretary Gates repeated his mantra that the U.S. Navy is larger (based on displacement) than the next thirteen largest with classes of ships such as aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious ships unmatched in the world. The U.S. Navy has more carrier-capable aircraft, missile launch tubes and nuclear-powered submarines than all the rest of the world. According to the Secretary, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are either overbuilt for the irregular warfare threats we now face or becoming technologically overmatched by the long-range precision-strike threats of the future. Secretary Gates’ assessment of the “bloated” size of the U.S. Navy is taken entirely out of context. It does not reflect the realities of distance, refit times, allies in different parts of the world or the fact that the U.S. Navy is the only force capable of securing the sea lanes and integrating the operations of its allies. Nor does he appear to understand how a modern ocean-going navy operates. As an erstwhile specialist on the Soviet Union he apparently has forgotten how the U.S. Navy planned to operate against the threat that country posed, one which included lots of missiles, an integrated surveillance network, hundreds of submarines and very powerful air defenses. (This is another example of Secretary Defense Gates' lack of strategic thinking and how he can permanently damage our military. Notice he talks about irregular warfare, which is what we are doing today in Iraq and Afghanistan. This means he thinks we will never need to worry about China, Russia, North Korea, or nuclear Iran. He has been in this job way too long and it is time for him to take a break from this demanding job and resign. -- MGen Geoffrey Higginbotham, Ret.)

Republican senators pressing to end federal control of Fannie, Freddie
Excerpt: As the Senate resumed debate Monday on legislation to overhaul financial regulation, leading Republican lawmakers are pushing an amendment that would wind down the government-controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The proposal by Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) calls for the government to end its control of the companies within two years. Under the amendment, Fannie and Freddie would have to reduce the size of their mortgage portfolios and begin paying state and local sales taxes. Congressional aides say the amendment is unlikely to pass. But as Congress argues over what to do with Fannie and Freddie, the hole burns deeper at the companies. Fannie reported Monday that it lost $11.5 billion in the first three months of the year and needed $8.4 billion from taxpayers to stay afloat.

McCain's Early Recognition of Fannie/Freddie Crisis
Republicans have tried before to regulate Fannie and Freddie. No need, said Democrats.

Assassinations and bombings in Iraq kill at least 85
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo.

Salazar to split MMS into two agencies
Quick, shut the barn door! Excerpt: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce Tuesday afternoon that he is splitting the embattled Minerals Management Service into two parts, according to an Interior Department official who asked not to be identified. The plan, which contrary to an Associated Press report does not need congressional approval, will divide MMS into two separate agencies: one with oversight responsibilities for the oil industry and another that would provide drilling leases and collect federal royalties on the operations.

Arizona law is hated because it could be effective
Excerpt: To understand the hysterical reaction to Arizona’s new immigration initiative, consider the numbers. There are 6,000 federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents tasked with restoring the rule of law in a country that already contains between 12 and 20 million immigration law-breakers. Any intending illegal immigrant knows that if he can get across the border undetected, he faces a minute risk of being apprehended on U.S. soil. (By comparison, the New York Police Department, with a current headcount of 35,000, feels itself greatly understaffed in a compact city of eight million residents, only a portion of whom are law-breakers.) The Arizona law, were it to be widely emulated, threatens to disrupt the calculus of illegal immigration. There are 650,000 state and local police officers in the U.S. If a significant portion of those officers received the mandate of the Arizona law—to inquire where practicable into the immigration status of an individual they have legitimately stopped, if they have a valid reason to believe he is in the country illegally—the balance between law enforcement and law-breaking would be changed enough to likely deter illegal border crossings and to persuade many illegal immigrants already in the U.S. to return to their home countries rather than face arrest and deportation. The opponents of Arizona’s law -- SB 1070 -- detest it not because it will lead to racial profiling (it will not), nor because it is unconstitutional (it is not), but because it just might work. Texas is reportedly already considering a similar law. The illegal immigrant lobby knows that it has to stop SB 1070 if it wants to maintain its monopoly over border matters, a monopoly that has led to the chaos that is now engulfing Arizona.

Welfare system could cause Israel to collapse, economist warns,0,2113135,full.story
The collapse is coming. Excerpt: Nearly one in five Israeli men between the ages of 35 and 54 do not work, including Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews, says Dan Ben-David. As their numbers rise, so does the economic peril, he says.

An Ever-Evolving Enemy
Excerpt: Last December, my family saw the revival of “White Christmas” at the Marquis Theater on Broadway. The play reminds us of a time when Americans could easily identify their enemies. Back then, veterans poured home knowing they’d completely vanquished their Axis foes and kept our country safe. Things aren’t as straightforward today. While we were in New York, a terrorist was planning the attack he’d carry out Christmas Day on a plane headed for Detroit. Five months later, another terrorist attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square. Had he succeeded, the Marquis might have been destroyed.

Obama wants federal agencies to hit the gas on hiring
More employees to fight the deficit? Excerpt: If you've spent months trying to get a job with the federal government, things are about to get easier. President Obama plans to instruct federal agencies to radically overhaul the process now used to hire government workers. The change is expected to cut in half the time it takes to fill vacancies and allow the government to better compete with the private sector for top talent.

Thieves take controversial Mojave Desert cross
Must be Tea Party folks—the left is law abiding—MSNBC says so. Excerpt: Thieves have stolen a cross in the Mojave Desert that was built to honor Americans who died in war, less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the religious symbol to remain on federal land. The 7-foot-high cross was stolen late Sunday or early Monday by thieves who cut the metal bolts that attached the symbol to a rock in the sprawling desert preserve, National Park Service spokeswoman Linda Slater said.

The New Middle East Peril
Excerpt: Israel's enemies can't compete with its air force, so they have shifted to massed ranks of computer-controlled missiles. Recent news reports indicate that Syria (the recipient of yet another love and peace outreach by Obama) has now sent SCUD-type missiles to Hezb'allah, which currently controls Lebanon. In Gaza, Hamas is rumored to have long-range missiles as well, and a state-of-the-art anti-ship cruise missile was used in the Hezb'allah war of 2008 to blast an Israeli navy frigate. Thus, Israel is surrounded by hostile nations with ballistic and cruise missiles, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza. SCUDs carry a half-ton of high explosive. In another year or two, the Iranians will have a nuclear device, and even now they could launch dirty nukes, which use conventional explosives with radioactive metal.

Security Policy by Bumper Sticker
Excerpt: When I was a little girl, at the height of the Cold War, I used to wish, deeply and fervently, that nuclear weapons had never been invented. An accompanying fantasy placed me at the center of world events. Just as the two superpowers were preparing to launch a devastating exchange of nuclear weapons, I would step between the two. Seeing an innocent child, the hard-boiled men of the world would soften and reconsider their terrible course. In other words, at the age of 7 or 8, I was a liberal. As I grew, I came to understand a) that it was not possible to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle, and b) that the way to safety lay not in arms control but in strength prudently pursued. Liberal approaches to foreign policy continue to rely more on wishful thinking than on realism or maturity. But even in the context of liberalism, President Obama's recent policy declarations on the matter of nuclear weapons are juvenile and disturbing.

Health insurance will be reformed by a little known department
I know nothing about this source. Excerpt: In one of those “important but little noticed” announcements that government officials are prone to put out, the Department of Health and Human Services recently let the world know – via the Federal Register — that it has created an Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight to assist with implementation of the newly passed health insurance reform law. This new office has four divisions. Here are a few of their responsibilities: The Office of Insurance Programs will administer new high-risk pools and their funding. The Office of Oversight will put in place new rules governing the insurance market and the rules regarding medical loss ratios — the percentage of revenues that health insurers will be required to spend on medical care. The Office of Consumer Support will collect and maintain comparative pricing data for the HHS health insurance website. The Office of Health Insurance Exchanges will develop the rules governing state-based health insurance exchanges, and oversee their operations.

Worth Reading: Deep Cover at Organizing for America
Excerpt: According to the report, one of the hosts of the training session was the secretary of the Democratic Party of Evanston, Brian Miller. Miller told attendees that the DP of E has "a history of exporting our influence." This was the purpose of the meeting. Under the name "Organizing for America," it is their stated objective to further export Democratic influence. Miller went on to describe the hundreds of Obama volunteers the group sent into Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa -- busloads of them. Evanston, the blogger shows, is a major distribution hub of Leftist politics. Reading this part of the report, I recalled the scene where the doctor looks out his window on the town square in the black-and-white version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and witnesses his fellow citizens loading pods onto trucks and into the trunks of their cars. "We got it locked down" in Evanston, Miller told attendees. Then, Organizing for America regional field director, Brian Gorman asked attendees to consider the question, "How can I use the tools to take ownership of the community?" One such "tool," apparently, will be the continued use of the sexual slur "teabagger." Democrats seem to take a giggly delight in saying it. It's like a dirty word in the mouth of a child. President Obama has been quoted using it. I still don't know exactly what it means, but get the idea that unless you're into whips and chains, it isn't good

Israel primed for war on Iran - Netanyahu deputy
Excerpt: Officially endorsing efforts by U.N. Security Council powers to step up sanctions against Tehran, which denies having hostile designs, Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials usually speak obliquely of a need to "keep all options on the table". Two other senior Israeli officials said U.S.-led diplomatic pressure should be given a chance. But they voiced misgivings. "I believe that, by the middle of June, there will be international sanctions that will be watered down, with very low chances of being effective," Defence Minister Ehud Barak told a closed-door parliamentary committee, according to a spokesman. "With that said, there is nevertheless importance to such sanctions, because the delay has only served Iran," he said, adding: "It is very possible that there will be other, more effective sanctions by a specific set of European countries."

World Health Organization Moving Ahead on Billions in Internet and Other Taxes
Excerpt: The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations' public health arm, is moving full speed ahead with a controversial plan to impose global consumer taxes on such things as Internet activity and everyday financial transactions like paying bills online — while its spending soars and its own financial house is in disarray. The aim of its taxing plans is to raise "tens of billions" of dollars for WHO that would be used to radically reorganize the research, development, production and distribution of medicines around the world, with greater emphasis on drugs for communicable diseases in poor countries.

Raw milk battle reveals FDA abandonment of basic human right to choose your food
Excerpt: The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), an organization whose mission includes "defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods", recently filed a lawsuit against the FDA for its ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The suit alleges that such a restriction is a direct violation of the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the suit led to a surprisingly cold response from the FDA about its views on food freedom (and freedoms in general). In a dismissal notice issued to the Iowa District Court where the suit was filed, the FDA officially made public its views on health and food freedom. These views will shock you, but they reveal the true evil intent of the FDA and why it is truly a rogue federal agency. The FDA essentially believes that nobody has the right to choose what to eat or drink. You are only "allowed" to eat or drink what the FDA gives you permission to. There is no inherent right or God-given right to consume any foods from nature without the FDA's consent. (...) The State, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you wish to consume. And the State may do this for completely unscientific reasons -- even just political reasons -- all at their whim.

Europe, Nationalism and Shared Fate
Excerpt: The European financial crisis is moving to a new level. The Germans have finally consented to lead a bailout effort for Greece. The effort has angered the German public, which has acceded with sullen reluctance. It does not accept the idea that it is Germans’ responsibility to save Greeks from their own actions. The Greeks are enraged at the reluctance, having understood that membership in the European Union meant that Greece’s problems were Europe’s. And this is not just a Greek matter. Geographically, the problem is the different levels of development of Mediterranean Europe versus Northern Europe. During the last generation, the Mediterranean countries have undergone major structural changes and economic development. They have also undergone the inevitable political tensions that rapid growth generates. As a result, their political and economic condition is substantially different from that of Northern Europe, whose development surge took place a generation before and whose political structure has come into alignment with its economic condition.

A Duty to Die by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: One of the many fashionable notions that have caught on among some of the intelligentsia is that old people have "a duty to die," rather than become a burden to others. This is more than just an idea discussed around a seminar table. Already the government-run medical system in Britain is restricting what medications or treatments it will authorize for the elderly. Moreover, it seems almost certain that similar attempts to contain runaway costs will lead to similar policies when American medical care is taken over by the government. Make no mistake about it, letting old people die is a lot cheaper than spending the kind of money required to keep them alive and well. If a government-run medical system is going to save any serious amount of money, it is almost certain to do so by sacrificing the elderly. …. Talk about "a duty to die" made me think back to my early childhood in the South, during the Great Depression of the 1930s. One day, I was told that an older lady-- a relative of ours-- was going to come and stay with us for a while, and I was told how to be polite and considerate towards her. She was called "Aunt Nance Ann," but I don't know what her official name was or what her actual biological relationship to us was. Aunt Nance Ann had no home of her own. But she moved around from relative to relative, not spending enough time in any one home to be a real burden. At that time, we didn't have things like electricity or central heating or hot running water. But we had a roof over our heads and food on the table-- and Aunt Nance Ann was welcome to both.

Canadian on welfare linked to prominent terrorists
Paying for your own destruction.

German Officials Believe Berlin Islamist Killed in Pakistan,1518,693995,00.html
Excerpt: Security authorities in Germany believe that another member of a group of German Islamist insurgents in Pakistan has been killed. Officials wonder whether the deaths will be a deterrent for copycats or whether it will inspire others to sign up for jihad.

Greenland Warmer 1000 Years Ago
Excerpt: A recent paper by Vinther et al in Quaternary Science Reviews looks at ice cores from the Greenland ice cap and uses them to determine the past climate of the region. Two things are worth noting about this paper. The first is that it is yet more evidence that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) of a thousand years ago was at least as warm, and very probably warmer, than today. The second thing to note is that sometimes you can’t tell everything about a research paper from just reading the abstract and the conclusions.

Thank You, Soldiers

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