Saturday, May 22, 2010

Political Digest May 22, 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.

Why would anyone need to lie about having been in Vietnam?
Excerpt: As a Marine (and Vietnam veteran of no distinction whatsoever), I've run into men who told me they'd been in the Marines, too. Always happy to meet a fellow Marine, I'd ask what unit they served in. "Oh, I was in . . . the 173rd . . ." Except there is no 173rd in the Marine Corps. I've felt embarrassed for them and wondered how empty their lives were that they'd tell such a lie. Jim Lehrer, PBS anchorman and former Marine, wrote a pungent little novel, "The Phony Marine," about this quirk in the male ego. Once I listened to a former war-zone correspondent who was eager to demonstrate that his time under fire was the same as a soldier's. He said: I'd get up in the morning and face the decision of whether I should head out where it was really dangerous. But soldiers don't get to decide. They don't have choices. That's part of the hell of war. The fact is that regardless of whether a war was moral, justified, won or meaningful, having served in one -- particularly in combat -- confers prestige. Harvard and Yale and social connections are nice, but at 3 o'clock in the morning you find yourself outranked by high school dropouts whose names are on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial. Not in the eyes of the world, but in your own eyes. What a withering stare it must be for some men, that they'll shame themselves far worse than they were shamed before, by telling a lie. (And gentlemen in England now a-bed, Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks, That fought with us….)

Blumenthal: "I wore the uniform in Vietnam"
Incoming! Excerpt: The Stamford Advocate is now claiming to have unearthed another damning quote from Richard Blumenthal, this time from the Veterans Day parade in Stamford on November 9th, 2008: "I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support." Blumenthal, at his damage-control presser the other day, claimed to have erred in the past by using the word "in" rather than "during." While it's always possible this could be another example of this species of misstatement, on the face of it this one looks pretty bad. (I had a doctor in 2008 tell me he was against McCain because of Iraq. “I’m a Vietnam veteran,” he said, implying he thus knew about war. “So am I,” I replied. “Where were you?” “Oh, I was at Great Lakes, I was a Vietnam Era Vet,” he responded. “Catch much incoming?” I was tempted to ask, but bit my tongue and changed the subject.)

AP source: Intelligence director to resign
Blumenthal might be available—and he’s a vet. Excerpt: A government official says Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair is resigning. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not been made public. A retired Navy admiral, Blair is the third director of national intelligence, a position created in response to the 9/11 attacks. Blair's tenure as the overseer of the nation's intelligence agencies was marked by turf battles with CIA Director Leon Panetta and controversial public comments in the wake of the Christmas Day airliner bombing attempt.

From Banning Books to Banning Blogs
Excerpt: The Obama administration has announced plans to regulate the Internet through the Federal Communications Commission, extending its authority over broadband providers to police web traffic, enforcing “net neutrality.” Last week, a congressional hearing exposed an effort to give another agency—the Federal Election Commission—unprecedented power to regulate political speech online. At a House Administration Committee hearing last Tuesday, Patton Boggs attorney William McGinley explained that the sloppy statutory language in the “DISCLOSE Act” would extend the FEC’s control over broadcast communications to all “covered communications,” including the blogosphere. (Why not “print neutrality? Force newspapers, magazines and book publishers to publish equal numbers of conservative and liberal pieces. Will need a LOT of police to enforce, of course. This not “neutrality. This is censorship.)

No easy task: Making the Afghan Special Forces
Excerpt: Here on the outskirts of Kabul, a single Special Forces A-team has been charged with a responsibility unprecedented since the Vietnam era: creating an Afghan Special Forces organization from scratch. The establishment of the Afghan National Army Special Forces, the first members of which graduated from their qualification course May 13, is part of a larger trend toward a more traditionally “indirect” counterinsurgency approach on the part of elite Afghan units trained by U.S. Special Forces. The 7,000-strong Afghan Commando Brigade — the country’s premier infantry force — is expanding beyond its core “direct action” mission set aimed at killing or capturing insurgents and now conducts disaster relief operations and what the military terms “key leader engagements” with tribal and village elders. The Commandos and ANA Special Forces are also gaining trained information operations soldiers under the Afghan Information Dissemination Operations program while a plan to develop a special operations civil affairs program is in its infancy. But it is the ANA Special Forces program — to which Army Times was granted exclusive access — that is the biggest indicator of a strategic shift in the role played by Afghanistan’s burgeoning special operations forces. The establishment of the ANA SF is intended “to create an indigenous special operations force capable of countering enemy efforts head on, at the lowest level possible: the Afghan tribal and family subsystems,” according to a slide briefing given to visitors at Camp Morehead. “These teams will surpass any coalition force in terms of access and placement within the population.” In other words, the ANA SF is being created to deny the insurgents the easy access to the population they currently enjoy in many places.

Why the Chosen People Chose Obama
Excerpt: My friends Laura and Pam are both Jewish women who voted for Obama. Aside from this, they are as different as day and night. High school buddies, Laura and I grew up in the same type of cookie-cutter house. Our first-generation Russian parents both worshiped the American ground they walked on. Laura still lives in the New York 'burbs with her accountant husband, having raised two great kids. Her social obligations are limited to donating to her synagogue and, of course, the requisite Democratic vote. Her kids are working hard to achieve the American Dream. Now, Pam is a different story entirely. A Berkeley colleague, Pam was raised a Red Diaper Baby in Chicago. Her parents ensured that Pam and her siblings were steeped in party doctrine….. A burning question on many people's minds is why Jews like Laura and Pam vote for the Democrats. It's especially puzzling why Jews flocked to Obama, given his ties to anti-Semites who abhor Israel. But I think that the problem with most discussions is that the Lauras and Pams of the world are lumped together. Liberal Jews and Leftist Jews are worlds apart. In general, liberal Jews' support of Israel is unequivocal. Leftist Jews detest Israel, blaming that country, as well as the U.S., for all of the world's evil. Listen to how Pam expressed it: "I wouldn't care if Israel disappeared off the face of the map."

U.S. launches criminal probe on soldiers in Afghanistan
Excerpt: The United States has launched an investigation into allegations that a number of American soldiers were responsible for the "unlawful deaths" of at least three Afghan civilians, the U.S. military said on Thursday. "There are also allegations of illegal drug use, assault and conspiracy," the military said in a statement, adding that while no charges had yet been laid, one soldier was in pre-trial confinement. The United States, which has the bulk of some 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, has been criticized several times by rights groups and Afghans for allegedly maltreating civilians and torturing suspected militant prisoners.

Presidents In Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones
Excerpt: Let’s examine how Mexico treats illegal aliens: - Immigrants and foreign visitors are banned from public political discourse. - Immigrants and foreigners are denied certain basic property rights. - Immigrants are denied equal employment rights. - Immigrants and naturalized citizens will never be treated as real Mexican citizens. - Immigrants and naturalized citizens are not to be trusted in public service. - Immigrants and naturalized citizens may never become members of the clergy. - Private citizens may make citizens arrests of lawbreakers (i.e., illegal immigrants) and hand them to the authorities. - Immigrants may be expelled from Mexico for any reason and without due process. The Mexican constitution: Unfriendly to immigrants: “The Mexican constitution expressly forbids non-citizens to participate in the country's political life,” said Waller. “Non-citizens are forbidden to participate in demonstrations or express opinions in public about domestic politics. Article 9 states, "only citizens of the Republic may do so to take part in the political affairs of the country." Article 33 is unambiguous: "Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country." The Mexican constitution guarantees that immigrants will never be treated as real Mexican citizens, even if they are legally naturalized,” said Waller. “The Mexican constitution states that foreigners may be expelled for any reason and without due process.”

3 (Insane Dragons) found dead in car had drug convictions, records show
Among the many benefits of multiculturalism and open borders is the growing violence from Hispanic gangs. They do not dare say if they were citizens or not—to raise the issue is taboo. This was in Chicago, not Phoenix. Don’t ever let anyone tell you illegal drugs don’t hurt anyone. Excerpt: Three men found dead this week inside a car abandoned on the city's Southwest Side were members of the Insane Dragons street gang and had previous drug convictions, according to police sources and court records. One victim, Andres Butron, 37, was charged with drug conspiracy after federal agents found $192,413 in cash in a bedroom closet during a 2004 raid, records show. He later confessed to being a bagman in a drug operation, transporting cash collected in drug sales to Mexico. He was released from federal prison in October 2008. Ernesto Alequin, 42, was convicted in 1995 in Cook County of the manufacture and delivery of more than 900 grams of cocaine and sentenced to 21 years in prison, according to court records. And Hector Romero, a father of three, who had numerous arrests dating to 1999, including convictions for drug possession and weapons, had briefly used his gang ties to help calm gang tensions as a peace mediator for CeaseFire Illinois.

Wall Street bill nearing finish line as Senate passes legislation 59-39
Creates a new, permanent government agency, thank God, but of course leaves Fannie and Freddie unregulated, something Bush called for throughout his presidency. Do you realize that we claim to be the leader of the free world and we still trail most of Europe, especially Greece, in the number of government agencies sucking life from the economy? Shameful. Excerpt: President Barack Obama on Thursday moved to the cusp of winning a major overhaul of Wall Street, following the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. The Senate on Thursday voted 59-39 to support the sprawling 1,500-page bill that now heads to a conference between the House and Senate. Four Republicans joined Democrats in support of the bill.

Stocks plummet as Germany gets tough on financial speculators
Hang on, here we go again. I blame George Bush—for the last 18 months, he’s done nothing about Greece or Germany. Excerpt: A German crackdown on financial speculators threw global markets into a tailspin Thursday, sparking the largest losses on Wall Street in a year, infuriating other European powers as they try to stabilize the ailing euro and raising questions about the ability of world leaders to coordinate their efforts at financial reform. The measures announced unilaterally in Berlin earlier this week took U.S. and European officials by surprise, and they run counter to the broad pledges of cooperation that leaders of the world's top economies said would guide their overhaul of financial regulation. Instead of shoring up confidence in Europe's ability to address an array of economic problems, the actions -- including an outright ban on some types of aggressive stock trading -- seemed to backfire and spotlight divisions in the euro zone. The fallout from Germany's actions hit Wall Street hard. Coupled with disappointing U.S. economic news, it forced the Dow Jones industrial average down 376 points, or 3.6 percent. Germany, angry over pressure to bankroll its spendthrift neighbors, intends on Friday to press the 15 other countries that use the euro to follow its lead in setting strict caps on budget deficits to maintain fiscal order in the region. But the proposal faces significant opposition. And the tensions are highlighting the squabbling over the region's handling of the debt crisis, further eroding investors' confidence in the currency.

What Democrats won (and what they didn't) in PA-12
Excerpt: Pennsylvania Rep.-elect Mark Critz (D-Pa.) and the Democrats won a big special election victory on Tuesday. But did the Democratic agenda win too?
Critz is a pro-gun, anti-abortion rights Democrat who vocally opposed his party's recently passed health care bill, as well as its cap and trade energy bill. He also kept President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) at arm's length throughout the campaign, preferring to establish his independence from his party and wage the battle on local issues. (Republicans, on the other hand, relentlessly attacked Pelosi and Obama in a series of ads in the district that, ultimately, didn't work.) In the battle after the battle, which is always the more interesting fight, Democrats are working to drive the idea that their policies won the most votes on Tuesday, too. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) noted at a press conference Thursday that Republicans did their best to link Critz with the health care bill, cap and trade, Obama and Pelosi and failed on all fronts.

Goodbye, Employer-Sponsored Insurance
It’s going to get ugly, which is why they scheduled the phase in after the 2012 election. Excerpt: Millions of American workers could discover that they no longer have employer-provided health insurance as ObamaCare is phased in. That's because employers are quickly discovering that it may be cheaper to pay fines to the government than to insure workers. AT&T, Caterpillar, John Deere and Verizon have all made internal calculations, according the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to determine how much could be saved by a) dropping their employer-provided insurance, b) paying a fine of $2,000 per employee, and c) leaving their employees with the option of buying highly-subsidized insurance in the newly created health-insurance exchange. AT&T, for example, paid $2.4 billion last year to cover medical costs for its 283,000 active employees. If the company dropped its health plan and paid an annual penalty for each uninsured worker, the fines would total almost $600 million. But that would leave AT&T with a tidy profit of $1.8 billion. Economists say employee benefits ultimately substitute for cash wages, which means that AT&T employees would get higher take-home pay. But considering that they will be required by federal law to buy their own insurance in an exchange, will they be net winners or losers? That depends on their incomes.

The EPA's Shocking Power Grab
Excerpt: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is carrying out one of the biggest power grabs in American history. The agency has positioned itself to regulate fuel economy, set climate policy for the nation and amend the Clean Air Act--powers never delegated to it by Congress. It has done this by declaring greenhouse gas emissions a danger to public health and welfare, in a proceeding known as the "endangerment finding." On Tuesday the U.S. Senate will debate and vote on Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's resolution of disapproval to overturn the endangerment finding. The resolution is absolutely necessary to restore democratic accountability in climate policymaking. If allowed to stand, the EPA's endangerment finding will trigger a regulatory cascade through multiple provisions of the Act. America could be burdened with a regulatory regime more costly than any climate bill Congress has rejected or declined to pass, yet without the people's representatives ever voting on it.

Politicians as Plutocrats
Excerpt: It is certainly a challenge, when major Western economies are wobbling and statist "solutions" are once again winning favor: What is the best way to describe the mixed economy of China, where statism is a way of life and yet markets keep appearing? Consider two recent actions by the Chinese government. It has proposed requiring local procurement officials to favor products that are based on China's own intellectual property—a strikingly protectionist measure. But it has also announced that it will begin to allow margin trading, short selling and the trading of stock index futures. Chairman Mao would have regarded such investing possibilities as a great leap into the abyss. According to Ian Bremmer in "The End of the Free Market," China is the exemplar of "state capitalism," a form of government that, he believes, is gaining in popularity throughout the world. Russia and Saudi Arabia are two other well-known practitioners, but state capitalism can be found everywhere—in Africa (Egypt), Eastern Europe (Ukraine), Asia (India) and Latin America (Brazil). While the precise criteria for membership in the state-capitalist club are a bit fuzzy, as Mr. Bremmer admits, the common denominator seems to be that the government (not the private sector) serves as the major economic player and intervenes in the market primarily for political gain.

State Pensions Becoming Federal Issue
Excerpt: Illinois used to have a plan to pay off the gaping shortfall in the pension funds that pay retired teachers, university employees, state workers, judges and politicians, says Dan Long, director of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the non-partisan auditing arm of the Illinois state legislature. Back in 1994, the state laid out a proposal that would have paid off most of what was then a $17 billion gap by 2011. But Illinois could not stick to the plan, says Long. However, with financial year 2011 less than six weeks away, the pension arrears of the 1990s look quaint, says the Financial Times: Instead of a balanced system, the state faces unfunded liabilities of about $78 billion, the biggest pension hole in the United States. Unfortunately, contributions amount to only $4 billion for 2011, the largest single element of its $13 billion budget deficit. Illinois is the poster child of unfunded pensions in the United States. But state retirement systems could become a national concern, new research shows.

Only one election pitted a Democrat against a Republican, and the Democrat won. Republicans had hoped to pick up Demo-gogue John Murtha's old House seat in PA-12, but failed to do so in a district that was the only one in the country to go for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. For Republicans, it was the third straight special election loss in a year when the climate is anti-Democrat. What's noteworthy is this: Democrat Mark Critz beat Republican Tim Burns by running as a conservative -- pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Arizona immigration law, anti-cap-n-tax and anti-ObamaCare. That Pennsylvania voters swallowed his schtick is not to their credit. Then again, the district does feature a 2-1 Democrat majority, so maybe Republicans shouldn't have gotten their hopes up. The Patriot Post

Raising Arizona’s Defense
I say let’s make everyone happy. We should put in the same immigration laws that Mexico has. Excerpt: It isn’t easy being Arizona these days, especially when President Barack Obama puts politics before Americans’ interests, a foreign head of state before the United States, and an agenda of apology before much-needed, sensible reforms. But that’s just what happened this week when Mexican President Felipe Calderon visited Washington, DC. President Obama extended a warm hand to Calderon and demagogued Arizona’s illegal immigration law all in the name of politics. Standing in the White House Rose Garden with Calderon, President Obama took the unprecedented step of publicly siding with Mexico against Arizona.

US Rifles Not Suited to Warfare in Afghan Hills
We didn’t think it was that great in Vietnam. Probably made in key congress critters’ districts, though. Excerpt: The U.S. military's workhorse rifle — used in battle for the last 40 years — is proving less effective in Afghanistan against the Taliban's more primitive but longer range weapons. As a result, the U.S. is reevaluating the performance of its standard M-4 rifle and considering a switch to weapons that fire a larger round largely discarded in the 1960s. The M-4 is an updated version of the M-16, which was designed for close quarters combat in Vietnam. It worked well in Iraq, where much of the fighting was in cities such as Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah. But a U.S. Army study found that the 5.56 mm bullets fired from M-4s don't retain enough velocity at distances greater than 1,000 feet (300 meters) to kill an adversary. In hilly regions of Afghanistan, NATO and insurgent forces are often 2,000 to 2,500 feet (600-800 meters) apart. Afghans have a tradition of long-range ambushes against foreign forces. During the 1832-1842 British-Afghan war, the British found that their Brown Bess muskets could not reach insurgent sharpshooters firing higher-caliber Jezzail flintlocks.

Calderon blames U.S. guns for violence
Excerpt: Mexican President Felipe Calderon called on Congress on Thursday to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons that he said are ending up in the hands of violent drug cartels south of the border, using a highly contentious estimate of U.S. guns seized in Mexico when addressing Capitol Hill lawmakers. Mr. Calderone said he respects the Second Amendment, but argued that violence south of the border spiked in 2004 after the expiration of a U.S. ban on semiautomatic weapons. Echoing statements made by President Obama Wednesday, Mr. Calderon said the U.S. bears some responsibility in propping up the drug trade with its demand for narcotics and supply of guns. Pointedly, he warned that U.S. failure to rein in weapons dealing leaves America vulnerable to the drug-war violence wreaking havoc in Mexico. "With all due respect, if you do not regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way, nothing guarantees that criminals here in the United States with access to the same power of weapons will not decide to challenge American authorities and civilians," he said. Mr. Calderon told a joint session of Congress that of the 75,000 guns seized by Mexican authorities over the last three years, 80 percent are traced to the U.S. That assertion is suspect as gun-rights advocates and several media outlets have debunked similar figures in the past. Indeed, Mr. Calderon's comments drew a harsh rebuke from the National Rifle Association on Thursday. "The answer to Mexico's drug and violence problem does not lie in dismantling the Second Amendment; it lies in making sure that the Mexican government takes care of problems on their side of the border," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said. "With all due respect to the president, he's either intentionally using false data, or he's unknowingly using bad numbers." Mr. Arulanandam pointed to congressional testimony given in March 2009 by an official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who said there is no factual basis for the claim that as many as 90 percent of the weapons come from the U.S.

Anti-Arizona boycotts put cash over principle
When you boycott a state, you hurt the people at the economic bottom, not the top. In AZ, that would be Hispanics. Idiots. Excerpt: A handful of city councils around the country have recently grabbed headlines by adopting anti-Arizona resolutions in response to that state's toughened stance on unlawful immigration. Leftist groups have worked overtime to organize the effort to pressure Arizona lawmakers into repealing the new law before the ink had dried on the governor's signature. While these council ordinances promise dramatic action, they amount to little more than a feel-good measure for armchair revolutionaries. When it comes to choosing between dollars and principle, cities choose cold cash every time. San Diego's city council offered the most symbolic protest in the form of an ordinance that "urges the State of Arizona to repeal SB 1070" and takes no further action. Seattle and Oakland each kicked it up a notch by pledging to avoid contracts with Arizona-based companies. Though the press releases sounded tough, the actual legal language was more porous than our border with Mexico. The cities boldly pledged to urge municipal departments "to the extent practicable" and where there is "no conflict with law" to "refrain from entering into any new or amended" contracts with Arizona firms. The weasel words were necessary because none of these jurisdiction has any intention of actually cutting off their favorite cash cow: red-light cameras. It turns out that the two largest providers of photo-enforcement equipment are headquartered in the Grand Canyon State. San Diego and Seattle have an existing contract with American Traffic Solutions, which is based in Scottsdale. Oakland contracts with Redflex Traffic Systems, which, although it has a large Phoenix office, is really based in Australia. Oakland politicians, however, can hardly escape their dilemma by admitting to their constituents that the millions in ticketing revenue is going to a foreign country instead of Arizona. Nor are they about to give up the city's share of the loot. No matter how loud the rhetoric against Arizona's new law, no city has announced any intention whatsoever of dropping an Arizona-based traffic-camera contract.

No penalty for misuse of federal credit cards
Excerpt: An investigation that found thousands of dollars in unauthorized purchases of clothing, gold coins, flat-screen televisions, gym memberships and college tuition payments by employees of the Federal Protective Services using government purchase cards has resulted in no disciplinary action. Twenty-one FPS employees took advantage of an 18-month transition period during which the security agency was moved from the General Services Administration to the Department of Homeland Security "to loot GSA resources by purchasing unauthorized goods," according to the GSA's office of inspector general.

Tea Parties vs. Unions in November
Excerpt: Elections this month have enhanced the political clout of two groups widely separated on the political spectrum. The tea party movement stands to play an outsize role in the fall elections now that outsider Rand Paul has swept Kentucky's GOP Senate primary, while unions provided the muscle for Democrats to win a key special election in Pennsylvania. Dr. Paul's victory comes just after Utah Sen. Bob Bennett was denied a place on the primary ballot by a GOP state convention dominated by tea party activists. In Kentucky, Dr. Paul beat a GOP establishment candidate by calling for spending restraint and an end to "Bailout Nation" policies. A new Rasmussen poll shows him leading his Democratic opponent by 25 points. Tea party-backed candidates also won key House primaries in Pennsylvania and Arkansas this week. Democrats, fearful of the grass-roots enthusiasm that candidates such as Dr. Paul are able to generate, immediately accused him of being an elitist for holding his victory party at a country club. They also slammed him for suggesting physicians like him deserve to earn "a comfortable living" while supporting an end to farm subsidies. Liberal attacks on the tea party have flipped completely. Largely gone are dismissals that they are rednecks and rubes. After a New York Times survey found tea partiers are generally better educated and wealthier than the general public, they are now attacked as aloof and out of touch with the concerns of average voters. The criticism will only mount because tea party activists represent an injection of fresh blood and enthusiasm that threatens Democratic incumbents. They certainly expand the GOP voting base: A March Gallup poll found that 43% were registered independents and 8% declared themselves Democrats. The rise of the tea party makes Democrats even more dependent on organized labor. In this week's Pennsylvania special election for the late Jack Murtha's seat, the AFL-CIO alone sent out 80,000 mailers on behalf of Democrat Mark Critz, along with 100,000 robocalls.

Pretend Marine fools Army
Excerpt: A Texas man with no military experience managed to trick the Army into letting him enter a reserve unit as a noncommissioned officer earlier this year, putting an untrained Soldier in a leadership position in a time of war, an Associated Press investigation has found. The revelation comes just months after the Army drew criticism for failing to flag the suspicious activities of the Army psychiatrist now charged with killing 13 and wounding dozens of others at Fort Hood. The case, detailed in court records and other documents examined by the AP, raises more questions about the Army's ability to vet Soldiers' backgrounds as it faces continued pressure from Congress over its screening and records system. While the Soldier never deployed overseas, some say the case demonstrates how easily someone could pose as a member of the U.S. military. Jesse Bernard Johnston III, 26, joined the Army Reserve in February as a sergeant and was assigned to the Corps Support Airplane Company based at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station. But he wasn't qualified to hold that rank, according to military records obtained by the AP. The records show that Johnston's only military experience was attending part of a 12-week Marine officer candidate course for college students in 2004.
Maj. Shawn Haney, spokeswoman for Marine Manpower and Reserve Affairs, said Johnston didn't complete the course's final six weeks. "He was never considered a Marine," she said.

Illiterate? Become a Reporter!
Excerpt: It reminds me of when I was 19, and a reporter from a major but local newspaper came to do a profile on me. I talked about Syrian and Iranian support for the insurgency in Iraq. She repeatedly asked, “Iran and which country?” After the interview, she called me the next day to ask which countries were involved again. By then, Syrian and Iranian support was widely discussed. She also asked me what an “insurgency” was, clearly never hearing the term before. And get this—she appeared to be Indian, one of the countries most familiar with insurgencies.

Obamacare budget funds a plague of bureaucrats and voter manipulation
I’m shocked. Shocked! Excerpt: Imagine that. Apparently President Obama goofed when he said universal healthcare costs less than zero. So said the Congressional Budget Office last week when they added a couple hundred billion to the bill for “administrative costs” and “discretionary programs.” Oh well. Everyone makes mistakes. The grandchildren will understand. These expenses weren’t included in the much-touted “deficit-reducing” Obamacare price-tag prior to the vote last March, simply because the exact totals weren’t ready. Of course, we now know that Obama and Nancy Pelosi took that opportunity to present the unfinished projection as complete and quickly called the House vote. All the more evidence that Democrats in Washington can get away with nearly anything. To be fair, Candidate Obama did say that he would take a scalpel to federal spending, I just thought he meant to cut spending – not increase it by sculpting a budget into whatever image would best con Capitol Hill and the American people. Like last spring when Pelosi hacked at the Obamacare cost projections like a demented back-alley surgeon in a Warner Brother’s film noir classic. But instead of just giving a gangster a new face, Obama, Pelosi, and their accomplices have cobbled together an entire budgetary Frankenstein. Robert M. Goldberg had an interesting piece at the American Spectator yesterday, regarding this latest multi-generational invoice. According to Goldberg, the additional spending will fund the army of government nannies Obamacare needs to eavesdrop on doctor visits, poke big fat monkey-wrenches into the gears of private insurance (because that worked out so well with the banks), and bankroll the ongoing voter-manipulation and subterfuge that will keep Pelosi’s minions in office.

The Fruits of Weakness
Excerpt: It is perfectly obvious that Iran's latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent). Which is why the French foreign ministry immediately declared that the trumpeted temporary shipping of some Iranian uranium to Turkey will do nothing to halt Iran's nuclear program. It will, however, make meaningful sanctions more difficult. America's proposed Security Council resolution is already laughably weak -- no blacklisting of Iran's central bank, no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry, no nonconsensual inspections on the high seas. Yet Turkey and Brazil -- both current members of the Security Council -- are so opposed to sanctions that they will not even discuss the resolution. And China will now have a new excuse to weaken it further. But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran's program. The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world. That picture -- a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam -- is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.

Petition against pro-genocide girl
If she’d endorsed the AZ law, would have to go into hiding. But murdering Jews? Who Cares?

Everybody Draws Mohammed Day
Excerpt: I initially had mixed feelings about Everybody Draws Mohammed Day. Provocation for its own sake is one of the dreariest features of contemporary culture, but that's not what this is about. Nick Gillespie's post reminds us that the three most offensive of the "Danish cartoons" — including the one showing Mohammed as a pig —were not by any Jyllands-Posten cartoonists but were actually faked by Scandinavian imams for the purposes of stirring up outrage among Muslims. As Mr Gillespie says: It is nothing less than amazing that holy men decrying the desecration of their religion would create such foul images, but there you have it. It is as if the pope created “Piss Christ” and then passed it off as the work of critics of Catholicism. So, if it really is a sin to depict Mohammed, then these imams will be roasting in hell. (Unless, of course, taqqiya permits Muslims to break their own house rules for the purpose of sticking it to the infidels.) But, that aside, the clerics' action underlines what's going on: the real provocateurs are the perpetually aggrieved and ever more aggressive Islamic bullies — emboldened by the silence of "moderate Muslims" and the preemptive capitulation of western media. I was among a small group of columnists in the Oval Office when President Bush, after running through selected highlights from a long list of Islamic discontents, concluded with an exasperated: "If it's not the Crusades, it's the cartoons." That'd make a great bumper sticker: It encapsulsates both Islam's inability to move on millennium-in millennium-out, plus the grievance-mongers' utter lack of proportion. I'm bored with death threats. And, as far as I'm concerned, if that's your opening conversational gambit, then any obligation on my part to "cultural sensitivity" and "mutual respect" is over. The only way to stop this madness destroying our liberties is (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts it) to spread the risk. Everybody Draws Mohammed Day does just that. Various websites are offering prizes. I only wish we could track down those sicko Danish imams* who drew their prophet as a pig, and send them the trophy.

Reader contributions for Everybody Draw Muhammad Day! and and

Feds: Bomber's Phone Number Found In Watertown Home
Left is losing hope it will turn out to be a white, Christian tea party guy from the south. Excerpt: One of the men taken into custody during the FBI's terror sweep last week was found to have the phone number of confessed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad in a cell phone found in his Watertown home, a federal prosecutor said Thursday. At an immigration hearing for Aftab Ali, who also goes by the name Aftab Khan, Richard Neville, deputy chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that Faisal Shahzad's name was also found on an envelope in the home on Waverley Avenue which was searched during the raid.

Combat High
Excerpt: "You're thinking that this guy could have murdered my friend," Steiner explained to me later. "The cheering comes from knowing that that's someone we'll never have to fight again. Fighting another human being is not as hard as you think when they're trying to kill you. People think we were cheering because we just shot someone, but we were cheering because we just stopped someone from killing us. That person will no longer shoot at us anymore. That's where the fiesta comes in." Combat was a game that the United States had asked Second Platoon to become very good at, and once they had, the United States had put them on a hilltop without women, hot food, running water, communication with the outside world or any kind of entertainment for more than a year. Not that the men were complaining, but that sort of thing has consequences. Society can give its young men almost any job, and they'll figure how to do it. They'll suffer for it and die for it and watch their friends die for it, but in the end it will get done. That means only that society should be careful about what it asks for. In a very crude sense the job of young men is to undertake the work that their fathers are too old for, and the current generation of American fathers has decided that a certain six-mile-long valley in Kunar province needs to be brought under military control. Nearly 50 American soldiers have died carrying out those orders. I'm not saying that's a lot or a little, but the cost does need to be acknowledged. Soldiers themselves are reluctant to evaluate the costs of war (for some reason, the closer you are to combat the less inclined you are to question it), but someone must. That evaluation, ongoing and unadulterated by politics, may be the one thing a country absolutely owes the soldiers who defend its borders.

Sharia vs. Free Speech in Tennessee: CAIR Calls for Tea Party Group to Drop Speaker From Convention
Excerpt: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is attempting to bully the Tennessee Tea Party Convention into dropping Pamela Geller as one of their speakers for their event this weekend in Gatlinberg. In a stirring piece of Orwellian propaganda, CAIR cautioned the group via press release: “The Tea Party needs to decide whether it is a legitimate national political movement or just a safe haven for bigots and extremists,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “We ask that convention organizers not legitimize Geller’s extremist anti-Muslim rhetoric by offering her an official platform.” And CAIR should know a little something about being a safe haven for bigots and extremists. After all, their former communications director sits in jail right now after pleading guilty to weapons and explosives charges. He also admitted helping terrorists gain entry to a training camp in Pakistan.

The Technocrats’ New Clothes
Excerpt: Climategate, the Icelandic volcano, the Greek meltdown — suddenly the bureaucratic Masters of the Universe don’t look so omnipotent. In the last year, many of the dreams of an emerging international elite have imploded — and this, in a new century that was to usher in a regime of global liberal ecumenism. The lies and academic fraud of Climategate reminded us that it is almost impossible for even disinterested scientists to fathom the complex history of global climate change. But it also — and more importantly — reminded us how Western universities have turned into rigid medieval centers of intolerant orthodoxy. Our new academic monks, in their isolated sanctuaries — cut off by grants, subsidies, tenure, and cadres of obsequious graduate students from the grubby efforts of others to stay alive — have for years breezily issued all sorts of near-religious exegeses and edicts about the public’s ruination of the planet. We lesser folk were supposed to find salvation through installing windmills and junking our incandescent light bulbs under the tutelage of wiser overseers. Meanwhile, in the last few weeks, nature did what no human industry had ever quite done — shut down much of European airspace with a huge toxic cloud. But the mess was not a DuPont emission, or soot from Eastern Europe’s network of coal plants, or any such man-caused disaster, but the work of a prosaic volcano. The ensuing economic chaos and toxic air pollution were accepted with a shrug in that they were natural and had nothing to do with Halliburton. Another dream — the European Union — is also imploding. Beneath the hysteria over Greece is a simple truth: All the capital that Germany piled up over the last 20 years through its export-driven economy was never really there; it must now be forfeited to those who borrowed from Germany in order to buy from Germany. In some sense, if a taxi driver in the Peloponnese drove a Mercedes beyond the reach of most Americans, it was not because of his capital-creating productivity, but rather because of his country’s ability to lure the Germans into lending Greece euros at nearly nonexistent interest.

Fox News Poll: States Should Have Right To Make Immigration Laws
Obama and the Dems are politically on the wrong side of this. As the violence, crime and costs get worse, and they will, more Americans, including Hispanic Citizens, will support Arizona. Excerpt: Amid the ongoing controversy over Arizona's new immigration law, voters by a 2-to-1 margin think individual states should have the right to make their own immigration laws. And a majority of voters would like their own state to follow Arizona's lead.

Mexico vs. United States: Mexican Immigration Laws Are Tougher
Must be racist bastards in Mexico!

Sestak may face ethics probe over claims of White House job offer
Excerpt: A top House Republican may file an ethics complaint against Rep. Joe Sestak if he refuses to give more information about the Obama administration's alleged effort to get him to quit Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary in exchange for a job. Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said his panel is obligated to investigate the claims because they involve three felonies, including offering a bribe and interfering with an election. "If Congressman Sestak will not tell us, then to be honest the only choice we have is to deal with this from a standpoint of congressional integrity," Issa told The Washington Examiner. "Under our ethics rules, either Congressman Sestak is lying, which would be an ethical violation, or he is covering up three felonies by members of the administration, which of course would be an ethical violation."

As Sestak Repeats Charge of Job Offer, White House Still Ducks Detailed Answer
Excerpt: Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat, said again this week that the White House offered him a job to keep him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary. And again, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has declined to provide any answers to the charge other than to reference a previous statement that nothing “problematic” occurred.

Corporate PACs shift giving from incumbents to GOP
Excerpt: Corporate America is gambling on the minority in its political giving this year, assuming that Republicans will win big in the November midterm elections, an analysis of campaign finance reports shows. The pattern represents a distinct change from a year ago, when Barack Obama was sworn into office and Democrats took control of Congress. Back then, corporate political action committees made a shift to the Democrats, giving 58 percent of their donations to the party. So far this year, only 48 percent of the contributions from big business are going to the Democrats. The shift in political giving represents a calculated bet that Republicans may regain control, GOP fundraisers and political consultants say. It also breaks a pattern in which lobbyists and executives overseeing corporate largess gave more to the party in power. Many other political winds have shifted behind Republicans in recent months, but the swing in money from corporate PACs is unusual. Corporations often give campaign contributions while seeking access and favor with incumbent lawmakers in position to shape legislation -- meaning they gravitate to the party in power.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Eric Holder
Excerpt: Attorney General Eric Holder has a morally serious job. He must; he heads the only cabinet department named after one of the four cardinal virtues. But in his execution of that office, Holder consistently shows a deficiency in the three other ingredients of classical moral probity: prudence, temperance and courage. Prudence is serviceably defined as the marriage of right means with right ends; that is, not only knowing the right thing to do, but also understanding the right way to do it. For instance, sensible Americans of every stripe agree that bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to justice is a noble goal. But they part ways over the best means to accomplish this.

4th International Conference on Climate Change
Videos from the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change, May 2010, Chicago, IL (This consists of 20 different videos of presentations at the conference. Especially recommended are the ones by Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Lehr, and Lord Monckton. -Ron P.)

SEIU Storms Private Residence, Terrorizes Teenage Son of Bank of America Exec
People will be pushed so far, the will respond in kind and things will get ugly. Excerpt: By now, you’ve probably seen the mob-scene that developed on the front lawn of the private residence of Greg Baer, deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America. This was planned for some time by the SEIU as part of a larger national event, their Showdown on K Street, which was shared with National People’s Action and thousands of other activists from and other left-wing groups. Prior to the main event on K Street in Washington DC, SEIU and company made a little pit stop. According to Fortune magazine Washington editor Nina Easton, 14 busloads of riled up protesters unloaded on Baer’s private property and stormed up to his doorstep, while his teenage son was home alone. Easton is a neighbor of Baer’s and had called to check on her neighbor’s son when she heard and saw all the commotion outside.

Synthetic Cells and the Energy Quest
Excerpt: A remarkable paper published online today by the journal Science could — emphasis on could — signal the start of an energy revolution, and more generally a manufacturing revolution. By “start” I mean this could be akin to the first twitch of a runner’s leg as she positions herself for the opening pistol shot of a marathon, not a sprint. The video interview above, conducted by a reporter for the journal with the leader of the research, J. Craig Venter, lays out some of the basics. One prime goal of Venter, a genomics pioneer and entrepreneur (partnering with Exxon Mobil, among others), is to program organisms that, at large scale, could harvest carbon dioxide and generate hydrocarbons, replacing oil as a fuel and feedstock. Nicholas Wade’s news story notes other avenues being pursued to develop next-generation biofuels.

Intelligence Director Knew His Days Were Numbered
Excerpt: For months, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has been a dead man walking -- and he knew it. So constant and vicious were the leaks from the White House and Congress of his imminent departure that he opened a recent speech on intelligence reform with a joke that his replacement would be Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb. The crowd's laughter was just a little uncomfortable, as Blair himself spotlighted the elephant in the room by suggesting that even the just-traded NFL star was being mentioned to fill the job. Everyone seemed to know this just wasn't working. His 16-month tenure had been studded with public intelligence failures, turf wars and that uniquely inside-the-Beltway ritual humiliation via leaks to the press.

Hoekstra: Resignation of Director of National Intelligence 'Is The Result of the Obama Administration’s Rampant Politicization of National Security'
Excerpt: Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, says the resignation of Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair “is the result of the Obama administration’s rampant politicization of national security and outright disregard for congressional intelligence oversight.” ABC News reported today that President Barack Obama would be accepting Blair’s resignation tomorrow, and the Associated Press reported that the administration has already interviewed several candidates to replace him.

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie swiftly vetoes 'millionaires tax,' property tax rebate bills
Excerpt: It took about two minutes from the time Senate President Steve Sweeney certified the passage of the millionaires tax package for Gov. Chris Christie to veto the bills at his desk. "While I have little doubt that the sponsors and supporters of this bill sincerely believe that the state can tax its way out of this financial crisis, I believe that this bill does nothing more than repeat the failed, irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal policies of the past," wrote Christie in his veto statement. "Now is not the time for more of the same. Ultimately, another tax increase will punish the state’s struggling small businesses and set our economy further back from recovery." The Assembly voted to pass the "millionaire's tax" bill 46-32, but Gov. Christie vetoed it soon after. After the state Senate passed the bill, which had already passed the Assembly, Sweeney walked the bills down the hallways of the Statehouse, from the state Senate chambers to the governor's office. Once inside, he handed the bills to Christie, who was waiting. "What took you so long?" asked Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak. Christie sat at a wooden desk emblazoned with the seal of the state of New Jersey and swiftly signed vetoes.

Democrats Have No Plan for Dealing with Fannie and Freddie
Not true. They plan to keep shoveling money to them. Excerpt: House Democrats appear to have no plans for dealing with the failed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, despite acting on dozens of other matters in the two months since Republicans proposed a way to rescue the two government-sponsored enterprises. So far, taxpayers have spent $145 billion to keep Fannie and Freddie solvent, and that tab is expected to go much higher.

Ray Stevens - Come to the USA
Too funny.

5 paintings taken in $100 million heist from Paris modern art museum
Spreading the wealth around. They’ll probably hide them in a third grade class art show where they’ll go unnoticed.

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