Sunday, May 9, 2010

Political Digest May 9, 2010

I post articles because I believe they will be of interest, not because I agree with every—or even any—opinion in them.

The Arizona border and their new law
30 seconds of background.

Parties working together on financial regulatory bill in Senate
Excerpt: Something unusual is taking place on the Senate floor: Republicans and Democrats are working together on a major piece of legislation. Almost as the founders planned it, senators are considering amendments to a massive financial regulatory bill without any of the usual procedural obstructions that eat up time and force 60-vote thresholds before anything can happen. Democrats are co-sponsoring Republican amendments and vice versa, and some measures are winning unanimous or near-unanimous majorities.

Our lawbreaking Congress
Excerpt: As a scholar who has studied and revered the Constitution for more than four decades, watching the behavior of our Congress in recent years has been all too often a depressing experience. One wonders whether some legislators have even bothered to read the Constitution, or if the problem is they simply don't care about the oath they took to support it. While doing research for my doctoral dissertation many years ago, I had the pleasure of reading extensively from the Annals of Congress, notes from Cabinet meetings of early presidents, and a great deal of other historical material while seeking to understand portions of our Constitution. In the process, I found myself marveling both at how remarkably well-read the Framers were - encountering frequent references to the writings of Locke, Montesquieu, Blackstone, Vattel, and other prominent 17th- and 18th-century thinkers - and also at the high principles repeatedly expressed by members of both political branches of our government when novel issues surfaced. Whether in the executive or legislative branch, our Founding Fathers were anxious to reach conclusions that were consistent with the meaning of the new Constitution and respected the powers of the other branches and the people. George Washington would suggest that an issue be put off for several days to permit Cabinet members to ponder decisions that might affect future interpretations of the Constitution, and James Madison raised similar cautions in Congress.

Woman alleges capture, threats by parents
Under Shari’a Law, a Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim, but a Muslim woman may not. Imagine this woman being dumb enough to think that, at 32 and in the United States, she no longer had to worry about this type of thing. Excerpt: A Campbell woman of Yemeni descent says she was abducted by her parents and taken to Hermitage, Pa., where they threatened to send her back to her homeland. The victim, 32, told police she was leaving a doctor’s appointment at an office on U.S. Route 224 when her father came up behind her, grabbed her in a bear hug and put her in the back seat of her car. The father then got into the driver’s seat, and her mother in the back seat with her. They drove to the Sheetz gas station in Hermitage. No charges have been filed. “I’m still gathering information and still trying to talk to witnesses,” said Boardman Detective Glenn Patton. The woman told police that her parents, who are Muslim, don’t approve of her marriage to a Christian man.

Jesus Christ cartoon in development at Comedy Central
Homeland Security and the SPLC may be keeping an eye on right-wing Christian groups, but Comedy Central deleted references to Mohammad in South Park. They know who is really dangerous. Excerpt: Jesus Christ is regularly depicted as a supporting character on one of Comedy Central's staple programs, "South Park," but now he might star in his own animated series. The network announced their programming plans for the upcoming year Thursday, and among some of the shows in the script development phase is a half-hour cartoon called "JC."
The series would be about "JC (Jesus Christ) wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow and to live life in NYC as a regular guy. A lot has changed in 2000 years and he is the ultimate fish out of water," according to a press release. "Meanwhile his all-powerful yet apathetic father would rather be playing video games than listening to JC recount his life in the city. JC is a playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb."

Doctors Without Borders Clinic Attacked in Somalia
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Gotta get those war mongers at Docs Without Borders. Excerpt: Officials with the aid group Doctors Without Borders say they do not know why Islamist insurgents attacked one of the group's clinics near the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The attack Wednesday forced the clinic to shut down. There is growing concern for thousands of internally displaced people who relied on the clinic for free medical care. The aid group Doctors Without Borders says it is still investigating the attack on its Hawa Abdi clinic, located about 20 kilometers south of Mogadishu, on a road that connects the capital to the town of Afgoye. Officials with the group, known by its French acronym MSF, declined to speculate on a motive for the attack. Witnesses say heavily-armed Hizbul Islam insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at the clinic before storming it. The attack sparked a firefight between the insurgents and security guards at the clinic, killing one guard and wounding others. Hizbul Islam fighters briefly detained 20 local staff before shutting down the clinic. The closure has reportedly spread fear and panic among tens of thousands of internally displaced people who have received free consultations and medical care at the clinic since 2007. Hizbul Islam, one of Somalia's two main radical Islamist insurgent groups, has not responded to claims it targeted the clinic.

Barack Obama's Money Trail
Excerpt: Just when we thought the socialism accusations against the Obama administration were subsiding, the president himself reignited the debate. Speaking in Illinois about his vision to reform Wall Street excess, Obama put forth: "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money. But part of the American way is you can just keep on making it if you're providing a good product or ... service." The tone of the "enough money" comment is interesting because it reflects a core liberal belief: Affluence should be controlled by the federal government primarily through high taxation of the wealthy. Certainly, Barack Obama has embraced that philosophy. He freely admits he supports the redistribution of income in America -- that is, taking assets from the rich and recycling them to the not-so-rich through entitlements, such as subsidized health care. (So if a sports figure, leftist Hollywood Star or a business owner has “made enough money” in Obama’s view, they should retire or work for free. I don’t care if the entertainers retire, but shutting down a business as the owner no longer has an incentive to work hard means a lot of folks like you and I get laid off.)

'Vote for the Crook. It's Important.'
Excerpt: If you ever wonder why politics in the State of Illinois is such a bucket of worms, you need look no further than the shot a CBS Chicago bureau producer fired at Republican US Senate nominee, Mark Kirk the other day. Said CBS producer, Ed Marshall told Kirk in front of a live mike; "Channel 2's made a decision. We're really not going to cover the Senate race if it consistently, only in your terms, is about Broadway Bank. The bank's been taken over by the government, Alexi's been pilloried. Tell me: what is your campaign going forward? What are the issues that you are going to tell the voters why they should vote for you?" In other words, The Broadway Bank collapse is not going to be investigated further by the media, and hence forth it is off-limits as a campaign issue. CBS was telling Kirk to button his lip -- or else. Why is this significant? Because the "Alexi" in the above quote is none other than the former VP and Chief Loan Officer of the bankrupt Broadway Bank, Alexi Giannoulias, who currently is the Democratic Senate nominee. CBS doesn't want to rock any boats here. The media's gripe with Kirk is that he is making a campaign issue of the bank's collapse and of it's nearly $400 Million dollar cost to taxpayers. Continually harping on the matter makes it tough for the media to run soft coverage of the Giannoulias campaign. They continually have to brush aside tough financial issues in order to get to the warm and fuzzies about his recent marriage or his love of Bulls basketball. And in an election climate where being labeled a " banker" is not a resume-enhancer, Giannoulias needs all the media help he can get. What CBS does not want to happen is for Illinois voters to ask themselves "Does a bank failure matter?" After all, in the grand scheme of things, what is another $400 million? Billions and Trillions are tossed around every day. Right now, there are so many zeros on the end of the Federal budget deficit that the number runs off the edge of the page. But, to answer the question - darn right it matters! Somebody has to pay it back. And we know just as sure as the sun rises in the east that the bill is not going to be paid by Democratic-connected insiders. It's going to be taken out of the accounts of everyday people, one way or another. Another thing the media would rather not concern voters with is the fact that a lot of the missing Broadway Bank money was lent to Chicago Mob figures. Locally, these are termed "juice loans". Believe it or not, Giannoulias lent some $20 Million to felons who were already convicted and were awaiting sentencing at the time the loans were made. This kind of banking is straight out of The Sopranos. Yet, to CBS news Mob connections are not a disqualifier for public office. Today's Democratic Party is a big tent. CBS's real problem is the fact that Illinois politics are conducted inside a house of mirrors, and everywhere they look they see a crook. Alexi Giannoulias happens to be the Democratic Party nominee for Barack Obama's old US Senate seat, the same seat that former Illinois Governor Rod "Blago" Blagojevich attempted to sell for $5 Million dollars just a year and a half ago. The "Blago" trial is set to start in June. A key witness is expected to be money-man Anton "Tony" Rezko, who also helped fix things so Barack and Michelle Obama could buy their Hyde Park house at below market price. Did you follow all of that? And we haven't even mentioned two recent suspicious suicides or Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and the gaggle of Alderman and City officials under investigation.

Italy's Littlest Angel
Excerpt: So imagine the surprise in Rossano Italy when a babe believed to be successfully aborted astounded both mother and medical personnel alike by doing the unthinkable and refusing to die. A hospital chaplain praying quietly beside what was thought to be a lifeless infant discovered the baby boy 22-weeks into gestation and twenty hours after being sluiced from the womb, stirring softly beneath a sheet. Prenatal scans, similar to the one mandated in Oklahoma, indicated that the boy was imperfect, so the mother decided, better dead than disabled and submitted her son to abortion. One small problem, the boy survived the procedure and was found "moving and breathing" despite the supposed handicap. The child was flushed from the warmth of amniotic fluid into glaring light, startled with harsh clamoring sound and then thrown aside like a piece of worthless rubbish. As doctor's snapped off surgical gloves and the baby's mother rested, sucked ice chips and sipped orange juice -- one pound of barely breathing flesh was relegated to a bitterly cold stainless steel cart. Lunch passed, dinnertime came and went and one second after another long second slowly ticked by, as the whimpering, defenseless life gasped desperately for air.

Iranian Navy Equips Hovercrafts with Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles
Suppose they do great damage to a US warship, than Iran announces the boats were stolen by rogue elements, the attack didn’t come from them? What will BO do? Excerpt: The Iranian Navy equipped its hovercrafts with a newly-manufactured anti-ship cruise missile, called Nour (Light), to boost the military power of its vessels in confronting potential threats by enemy vessels. The Iranian Navy used the new missile hovercrafts in the third stage of a series of naval wargames currently underway in the Strait of Hormuz and northern Indian Ocean. The hovercrafts' main mission in the third phase of the exercises was transferring and deploying marine commandoes and rapid reaction task forces in Iran's territorial waters. The Iranian Army launched amphibious operations during the third phase of the six-staged naval maneuver, codenamed Vellayat 89.

Excerpt: Section 9006 of the health care bill--just a few lines buried in the 2,409-page document--mandates that beginning in 2012 all companies will have to issue 1099 tax forms not just to contract workers but to any individual or corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a tax year. The stealth change radically alters the nature of 1099s and means businesses will have to issue millions of new tax documents each year. This means more work for corporate accountants. Much worse, though, is the demand on small businesses, including freelancers: Under the new rules, if a freelance designer buys a new iMac from the Apple Store, they'll [sic] have to send Apple a 1099. A laundromat that buys soap each week from a local distributor will have to send the supplier a 1099 at the end of the year tallying up their [sic] purchases.

Defining Dumbness Down
Excerpt: How and why has this happened? The "how" is easy. As with its successful conquest of mainline Protestantism, the left has taken over the educational establishment via the long march through the institutions. Admitted Pentagon bomber and alleged Obama ghostwriter Bill Ayers is well regarded by many in academe, as is radical leftist Professor Angela Davis, among many others. These are not marginalized, fringe characters. They represent the academic mainstream. They run the joint. The barbarians are not merely inside the gates; they control them, and like Plato's philosopher-dogs they are quite good at distinguishing friend from foe. Does one really expect such people to give a hoot and a holler about some racist, sexist, bigoted system of education founded by dead white guys over 2,000 years ago? (...) The "why" is only slightly harder to grasp. As rooted in the classical Greek conception of excellence and virtue (arête), the Trivium and Quadrivium continually incline the diligent student's gaze both inward and upward. Self-reflection and correction lead to the development of a character that loves the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Such a character is strong enough to repel attacks and sufficiently principled to give assent only to such propositions as can withstand logical and critical scrutiny.

The Enemy We Dare Not Name
Excerpt: Identifying the enemy by name also makes it difficult to adhere to the criminal-justice model that the Obama team and its lefty lawyers plainly adore. If there is a network of ideologically motivated, non-state terrorists, then are public trials and dispensing Miranda rights really the way to go? Well, if it’s just a “lone wolf,” perhaps the ordinary justice system can be employed. Or better yet, if it is a mentally unstable patient (don’t forget the liberal explanations du jour: Major Hasan was suffering pre-deployment stress syndrome, and Shahzad was a foreclosure victim), we can chalk this up to American war-fighting or capitalism.

Former US General Warns of Chemical Attacks Against Israel
Excerpt: Potential Hezbollah offensive includes chemically armed SCUD missiles with a 450 km range, preemptive strikes on air fields, and a wave of tunnel attacks that cross from Lebanon into Israel.

Sen. Bennett loses battle for Utah GOP's nomination and fourth term
Excerpt: Sen. Bob Bennett lost his bid Saturday to secure Utah Republicans' backing to return to Washington for a fourth term. Bennett fell victim to Utah conservatives, after delegates to a state GOP convention voted for attorney Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater above Bennett as their candidate for Senate. Lee finished in first place during the initial round of balloting at a state Republican convention. Nearly 29 percent of delegates backed Lee in the first round, while almost 27 percent backed Bridgewater, and roughly 26 percent voted for Bennett. A second round of voting was triggered because no candidate had secured 60 percent of the vote. The second round showed Lee at 36 percent and Bridgewater at 37 percent -- ahead of Bennett, who received 26 percent, dropping the senator off of the third round of voting. Lee and Bridgetwater will face off in a third round. If neither achieves 60 percent of the vote, they will face off in a June 22 primary, the winner of which is expected to have an easy path to victory in the fall in the right-leaning state. Bennett's ouster is a blow for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), to whom the Utah senator served as counsel, a leadership position.

Gates: Military spending should be subjected to harsher scrutiny
Excerpt: Defense Secretary Robert Gates is warning Congress and the Pentagon brass that military spending must receive harsh scrutiny in the face of the nation’s tough economic times and large deficit. Gates on Saturday said that it is “highly unlikely” the defense budget will grow in the coming years and challenged lawmakers to stop funding programs that the Pentagon does not want, such as more Boeing C-17 cargo airplanes and the General Electric-Rolls Royce secondary engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Another Rock
Excerpt: There is a myth about global warming, perpetuated by the media, that AGW does not have a political motive. I’ve had several commenters complain here that the politics are not right vs left they are on both sides. Tom Fuller would be a great example of someone on the left who sees that AGW is a bad argument. However, in no case does any aspect of politics unilaterally keep people of another general view at 100% disagreement. The fact that some agree or disagree does not change the reality that AGW is fully and completely about leftist politics.... America and the UK are becoming hell for people of reasonable mind, but there is nowhere to run to. Every liberal immigrant had their own utopia in the country from which they ran, yet they come here and try again. Every tax added is another fools errand to redistribute wealth away from the people they aspire to be.

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science
Excerpt: Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial—scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That's what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of "well-established theories" and are often spoken of as "facts."

Stepping Back; Moving Forward
Excerpt: The controversial e-mails related to climate change, plus reported errors in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, have spurred a dangerous deterioration in the rational relation between science and society. One U.S. senator has called 17 prominent climate scientists criminals, and pundits have suggested that climate scientists should commit suicide. Fourteen U.S. states have filed lawsuits opposing the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, some asserting that "climate change science is a conspiracy." South Dakota even resolved that there are other "astrological" forcings on climate. Scientists have been barraged by hateful e-mails. The debate has become polarized, and the distrust of scientists and their findings extends well beyond climate science. What can be done to repair society's trust in science? A broader perspective is needed on all sides.

Scientists Lash at ‘McCarthy-Like Threats’
Excerpt: The letter has a defensive tone that hasn’t served scientists particularly well in the past, but is understandable given the pressures that have been mounting on this field of inquiry. Just a couple of decades ago, climatology was a quiet arena connected to broader human affairs mainly through maps of planting times for crops. Now climate research has become entwined with energy policy and the brutal politics of fossil fuels, in which states’ stances largely are shaped by the presence or absence of coal or industries reliant on coal or oil for profits. The influence of fossil fuel money on climate science has sometimes reached right into the White House. At the international level, the climate debate has largely boiled down to economic battles between competitors and between the world’s rich and poor nations. The journal also has published an editorial on the scientists’ letter and the broader issue of polarization around climate research (subscription required). Written by Brooks Hanson, the deputy editor for physical science, the editorial attempts to cool things down, but also pushes back at the scientific community a bit.

The Null Theory
Excerpt: Recently 250 scientists signed a letter on climate change, I suggest reading it as it’s being touted as a big story in the news. As we are supposed to be the technical skeptics, there are a few issues which are easy pickings in the letter. The letter is an undisguised attempt to alter public impressions of uncertainty in climate science. It is no coincidence that uncertainty is the key issue which skeptical scientists have with institutional climate science. These uncertainties are far greater than even the technical public realizes, I didn’t understand the magnitude of the uncertainty even two years ago.

Sen. Scott Brown petition against earmarks

Handicap fountain — on 2nd floor?
When you turn things over to bureaucrats, they follow the rules. Doesn’t matter if they make no sense—government employees are not supposed to use judgment, just follow the rules. Excerpt: In the Columbia County courthouse, there’s a new, handicapped-accessible water fountain. There’s only one problem — the fountain is on the building’s second floor, which is only accessible via a staircase.

Marine Museum Film

Photos from WWI in Pacific
Most I had not seen.

1 comment:

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