Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Political Digest June 30, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

I can’t believe this year is half over. But then again, I can’t quite believe the 20th Century is over, though considering the tens of millions of people murdered by statists, I suppose good riddance. Only four months plus a couple of days until the election. I am not so confident as many of the columnists. Elections turn on lots of factors, mostly good candidates, money and hard work.

10 Alleged Russian Secret Agents Arrested In US
BO better get over there and do some bowing and scraping. They don’t seem to realize this is a new open era in US Foreign Policy following the Obama reset. Where is Sen. Joe McCarthy now that we need him? Excerpt: Ten people have been arrested for allegedly serving as secret agents of the Russian government with the goal of penetrating U.S. government policymaking circles. The Justice Department announced the arrests Monday. According to court papers in the case, the U.S. government intercepted a message from Russian intelligence headquarters in Moscow to two of the defendants. The message states that their main mission is "to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US" and send intelligence reports.

The General and the Community Organizer
I don’t buy this. Too convoluted and makes McChrystal look dumb to too many folks. If he disagreed so strongly with BO, the honorably course would have been to resign. If he’d gone public with his reason, would not have been page 22. Excerpt: I suggest that, having his best military judgments subjected to the White House political sieve for nearly a year and a half, McChrystal decided that he’d had enough. And when he announced to his senior staff that he was prepared to retire they decided to push back… to make the most of a bad situation. It was clear that, if McChrystal were to simply take off his uniform and walk away, his retirement would be page-twenty news for a day or two before the mainstream media and the American people forgot all about him. They had to make the most of his retirement because it provided a one-time opportunity to show the American people, as well as our enemies and our allies, that the man who claims the title of Commander in Chief of the U.S. military does not command the respect of our men and women in uniform. To make the most of that opportunity they had to choose their messenger very carefully. They knew that, by openly showing their disrespect for Obama in front of just any newsman, they may not attract the attention they desired. Like any astute observer of the MSM, they knew that most reporters would turn on their own mothers if it meant a good story. But they could not take a chance that a mainstream media reporter might suffer a rare pang of conscience when confronted with the prospect of ruining the careers of some of the most senior officers in the War on Terror. They had to fix the odds as much as possible in their favor so they chose to use Michael Hastings and Rolling Stone Magazine.

Could Mike Huckabee be the 2012 presidential nominee?
Excerpt: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) leaned heavily toward the 2012 presidential race over the weekend, telling Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace that he "does better against [President] Obama than any other Republican." After Huckabee's interview -- in which he also cited a "strong sentiment out there" for him to run -- the governor wrote a blog post on the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan in which he sought to remind people of the stakes in elections. "When I hear a statement like 'Republicans and Democrats are all the same,' I cringe and think of moments in our nation's history just like this one," he wrote. Huckabee has also used his HUCK PAC to endorse and donate to candidates of his choosing -- although his fundraising capacity to date doesn't rival that of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- both of whom are widely expected to run for president in 2012. Of late then, Huckabee is giving every public indication that he is ramping up a run for president.

Gun Control Laws by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means that individual Americans have a right to bear arms, what can we expect? Those who have no confidence in ordinary Americans may expect a bloodbath, as the benighted masses start shooting each other, now that they can no longer be denied guns by their betters. People who think we shouldn't be allowed to make our own medical decisions, or decisions about which schools our children attend, certainly are not likely to be happy with the idea that we can make our own decisions about how to defend ourselves. When you stop and think about it, there is no obvious reason why issues like gun control should be ideological issues in the first place. It is ultimately an empirical question whether allowing ordinary citizens to have firearms will increase or decrease the amount of violence. Many people who are opposed to gun laws which place severe restrictions on ordinary citizens owning firearms have based themselves on the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But, while the Supreme Court must make the Second Amendment the basis of its rulings on gun control laws, there is no reason why the Second Amendment should be the last word for the voting public.

Kagan’s Own Words: It’s Fine If The Law Bans Books Because Government Won’t Really Enforce It
Apparently, trashing the constitution was only a problem when liberals thought GWB was doing it.

McChrystal to retire from Army
Inevitable. Not that I don’t think he was dumb for running his mouth, but nobody at Rolling Stone will ever be fit to shine his boots. A sad end for long service to the Republic, brought about by his own foolishness and people who care little for America except what they can suck from it. When, say about 2030, Shari’a Law shuts down Rolling Stone, they will ask how it could have happened and why someone didn’t do something. When I was with the 25th Marines as a reservist, the Colonel made me the regiment public affairs officer, since I had contacts with the local press. McC could have used my services.

Study: DC Opportunity Scholarship Program Benefits Participants
No chance. Teachers’ unions have a lot more political clout than poor black kids with this president. He is “black” only when politically useful. Excerpt: Eighty-two percent of voucher students graduated high school, compared with 70 percent of students who were offered a voucher but chose not to use it, IES researchers found. The overall high-school graduation rate in Washington, DC is around 50 percent. Wolf says the impact of the scholarship program on high school graduation rates, especially for the subgroup of students who didn’t actually use the voucher, is “huge both in size and importance.” “If the younger [scholarship] students experience the same benefit, of an increase of 12 percentage points in the likelihood of graduation simply from the offer of a scholarship, an extra 449 low-income DC students will graduate from high school solely because of the Opportunity Scholarship Program,” Wolf said. “High school graduation is the Holy Grail of educational interventions in the inner city,” Wolf said, noting high school graduates live longer, experience lower rates of unemployment, earn higher wages on average, and are less likely to be convicted of a crime. “If a program boosts the graduation rate, and does nothing else, it’s a success,” he said.

Important: Fighting Crime Where the Criminals Are
Being PC is far more important than protecting the decent people, though most of the victims of black thugs are the decent black folks. If decent black and Hispanic folks have to suffer and die so liberals can feel good about being PC, well, that’s just the way it is. Excerpt: THERE was a predictable chorus of criticism from civil rights groups last month when the New York Police Department released its data on stop-and-frisk interactions for 2009. The department made 575,000 pedestrian stops last year. Fifty-five percent involved blacks, even though blacks are only 23 percent of the city’s population. Whites, by contrast, were involved in 10 percent of all stops, though they make up 35 percent of the city’s population. According to the department’s critics, that imbalance in stop rates results from officers’ racial bias. The use of these stops, they say, should be sharply curtailed, if not eliminated entirely, and some activists are suing the department to achieve that end. Allegations of racial bias, however, ignore the most important factor governing the Police Department’s operations: crime. Trends in criminal acts, not census data, drive everything that the department does, thanks to the statistics-based managerial revolution known as CompStat. Given the patterns of crime in New York, it is inevitable that stop rates will not mirror the city’s ethnic and racial breakdown. CompStat embodies the iconoclastic idea that the police can stop violence before it happens. The department analyzes victim reports daily, and deploys additional manpower to the places where crime is increasing. Once at a crime hot spot, officers are expected to look out for, and respond to, suspicious behavior. Such stops happen more frequently in minority neighborhoods because that is where the vast majority of violent crime occurs — and thus where police presence is most intense. Based on reports filed by victims, blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crime in New York in 2009, including 80 percent of shootings and 71 percent of robberies. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of reported gun assaults. And the vast majority of the victims of violent crime were also members of minority groups.

Food Fights
Excerpt: Some of the world's most bitter conflicts have nothing to do with access to resources, ethnic chauvinism, or the balance of power. Here's a short guide to the planet's fiercest gastronomic controversies.

Brown would vote 'no' on Wall St. bill; blames $19B in new bank fees
So why not stick it to the big banks? Well, the banks can either take it out of their stockholders, which include the mutual funds in most of our retirement plans, or they can charge it to their customers, who pass it on to consumers—like you and I. But most people can’t think two or three steps beyond the obvious. Excerpt: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said Tuesday he would oppose the Wall Street overhaul bill as it stands because of the $19 billion in fees it would place on big financial firms. In a letter to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Brown expressed "strong opposition" to the fees that were added in the conference process between House and Senate lawmakers last week. "If the final version of the bill contains these higher taxes, I will not support it," he said. The letter is the strongest indication yet that Brown will vote against the Wall Street overhaul bill. Brown had voted for the Senate's original version of the legislation before the fee was added. The conference bill cannot be amended on the House and Senate floor. House and Senate lawmakers were planning to pass the overhaul bill this week.
Wall Street bill back to conference as Democrats don't have the votes
Excerpt: Senate and House conferees on Wall Street reform are expected to reconvene Tuesday because of Republican objections to $19 billion in fees that would be placed on big financial firms. The meeting would follow Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) letter to the chairmen of the conference committee on Tuesday, in which he said he would oppose the Wall Street overhaul bill as it stands.

Obama's Islamic Envoy: Obama Is America’s “Educator-in-Chief on Islam”
It is Muslims practicing child marriage, Muslims carrying out murder and suicide bombing in the name of God, Muslims making women second class citizens, Muslims persecuting Christians and Jews in Muslim countries and Muslims practicing FGM who defame Islam. Stop that and the defamation will stop. Speak against that, Mr. President. Excerpt: Rashad Hussain, America’s special envoy to the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Saudi-based body formed in 1969 to “protect” Jerusalem from the Israelis, announced a new title this week for President Barack Obama. According to Hussain, Obama is America’s “Educator-in-Chief on Islam.” Hussain so designated Obama in a keynote speech Wednesday, June 23, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The occasion was another “post-Cairo” conference, following on the event that welcomed Islamist ideologue Tariq Ramadan to Washington in April. Hussain also declared that Obama is “Educator-in-Chief” on the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which has produced diplomatic and political events around the capital for some years. Hussain affirmed with satisfaction that presidential iftar dinners, where the fast is broken after sundown, and which had formerly been limited to diplomats from Muslim countries, now welcomed American Muslims from throughout society. In his remarks, Hussain also congratulated Obama for sending Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, to last year’s annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, a notorious front for Saudi-financed Muslim radicalism. Worse, Hussain has now divulged that the U.S. will support the OIC in the latter’s United Nations effort to criminalize “defamation of religion” – widely perceived as a measure to suppress criticism of Muslim practices that violate human rights. "The OIC and the Obama administration will work together in the UN on the issue of defamation of religion, especially in Europe," said Hussain. He had previously said, at the above-mentioned April “post-Cairo” conference, that the U.S. would work with the OIC to defend the Muslim head-scarf against prohibitions on its display in schools and governmental offices – a measure common to secular France and now Islamist-ruled, but still legally-secular Turkey, as well as Muslim-majority Tunisia and Kosovo. (Yep, that's the critical thing for the world today, to stop "defamation of religion".... well, that is, if you're referring to any and all criticism of how some Moslems practice the religion. I wonder if the continuous stream of vicious attacks on the religion of Judaism that we see in so much of the Islamic world will be part of what the UN is going to try to fix. Or maybe the attacks on Christianity in places like Saudi Arabia, or even the destruction of the Bahai in Iran, or the Falun Gong in China? I think I'll just sit right by the TV to wait for the announcement of how the UN is going to combat all criticism of any form of organized religion. Sure I will. --Del)

Government by the Faculty Lounge
Excerpt: We are being run by the mindset of the faculty lounge, as if the philosophy or English department has taken over running the country. Let me adduce some random examples. Tax proposals in haywire fashion are thrown out almost every day from various Obamians, as if at a faculty bull session over coffee. Can we count them all — much less can small businesses plan to hire a worker when they don’t know how much more they will shortly owe the government? Here is what we hear from Barack Obama: a restoration of the death tax. Trial balloons for a national sales tax or a VAT. How high will capital gains hikes go? Rates are to go back to or beyond (?) the Clinton income tax schedules? Was the cap to come off income exposed to the full FICA bite, and was it to be set at $150,000, $200,000, or $250,000? What exactly is the new healthcare surcharge? And when and if these federal income hikes are added to the states’ raises in state income, property, and sales taxes, what will the aggregate tax bite be? Does anyone know? Do any of these guys care how “they” are going to make enough money to pay “us”?

15 insurgents killed by their own bombs in Afghan mosque
They should have read the memo. Allah Akbar! Excerpt: Eight Arab, five Pakistani and two Afghan militants were killed when bombs they were making exploded prematurely inside a mosque in eastern Afghanistan, the Interior Ministry said Sunday. The insurgents were assembling bombs in Desi Mosque of Yousifkhela district in the south-eastern province of Paktika on Friday, the ministry said. Pakika borders the Pakistani town of Wana, where Taliban militants are said to have training bases. Afghan officials have repeatedly blamed Islamabad for not doing enough to clamp down on cross-border infiltration by insurgents.

Supreme Court to hear Arizona immigration law challenge
Interesting pre-curser. Excerpt: The nation's highest court agreed to decide whether the 2007 state law infringed on federal immigration powers and should be struck down. The law at issue in the case is different from the strict new Arizona immigration law passed earlier this year and criticized by President Barack Obama that requires the police to determine the immigration status of any person suspected of being in the country illegally. But the Supreme Court's eventual decision in the case, depending on how the justices rule, could end up affecting the pending legal challenges to the new law as well. The Obama administration last month urged the Supreme Court to rule that the 2007 law was preempted by federal immigration rules and would disrupt the careful legal balance that the U.S. Congress struck nearly 25 years ago.

Tim Blair: Greens Are Biggest Losers In Anti-Green Putsch
From Australia. Excerpt: As some prescient bloke wrote 13 months ago: "Climate change has turned out to be a helpful device to change governments, stitch up the middle-class Prius vote, grab Green preferences, impress stupid university students but a bitch of a thing to deal with once in government." Actually, that was me, getting it right for once. Well, maybe only half-right. As an issue, climate change has now gotten rid of both Kevin Rudd, who was in government, and Malcolm Turnbull, who wasn't. Still, that's two Australian millionaires brought down by their climate fixations. So much for IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri's 2007 claim that "it is the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit." Poor Malcolm. Poor Kevin.

Texas schools can't stop teachers from giving zeros
If teachers have to give honest grades, it will destroy the system and wreck the teachers unions. Not to mention the poor kids unearned self esteem. Excerpt: A Travis County judge ruled today that Texas public schools are required to give students truthful grades on class assignments and on their report cards under a 2009 state law that 11 school districts were challenging in court. The school districts — most of them in Harris County - argued that the law applied only to grades on assignments, noting that the statute didn't specifically mention report cards, semester grades, or six- or nine-week averages. But state District Judge Gisela Triana-Doyal ruled that the statute is "not ambiguous" and clearly means districts cannot require teachers to give students grades they did not earn. The bill's author, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has said she intended it to apply to all grades.

Living in Fear
When one can experience the high of being politically correct, a few dead Jewish kids doesn’t signify. Excerpt: Iris Twito, the mother of two sons injured by Qassam rockets in the city of Sderot, decided to grant an exclusive interview with Sderot Media Center, following the Gaza aid flotilla fiasco. “The entire world hates us,” said Iris, “but they don’t know what we’ve been through.” The Twito family is a living testament for why there is a naval blockade on Gaza. “It’s not just Sderot that is under threat today, but the whole country,” said Iris. “It is vital that we stop these flotilla boats because we cannot allow Hamas to terrorize our Israeli children.” Sitting on her patio in Ashdod, with a cigarette in hand, Iris recalls the most horrifying experience a mother can go through. Three years ago, Iris’s sons Osher and Rami, then eight and 19 respectively, were walking to an ATM in Sderot, when the rocket alarm went off. As the two brothers frantically attempted to locate a shelter in the middle of one of Sderot’s main streets, the Qassam rocket struck meters away from the two. The exploded shrapnel sliced through the boys’ legs. Residents poured out to the street to help, but another rocket alert went off, forcing everyone to flee to shelter again. Moments later, the ambulances arrived to transport the boys to the closest hospital, Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital, located 20 minutes away from Sderot.

Cost of Socialism
European tax rates, coming soon to a wallet near you.

Supreme Court Affirms Racist Origins Of Gun Control
Excerpt: How ironic that, on the day former exalted cyclop of the Ku Klux Klan Democrat Senator Robert Byrd died, the US Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the gun control laws that are embedded firmly in the Democratic Party's racist roots. At the heart of the McDonald v. City of Chicago case that is posted on the US Supreme Count's Internet site is the Court's decision that the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution - that was pushed through by Republicans after the Civil War, led by Republican Senator Charles Sumner - is the anchor that binds state and local governments to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self defense. Otis McDonald, one of the plaintiffs, is a black man who just wanted to have the right to protect himself from criminals who terrorized him in his home with frequent break-ins. The only current black US Supreme Court member, Justice Clarence Thomas who was appointed by Republican President George H. W. Bush, courageously delved into the racist origins of gun control laws to demonstrate that such laws have no place in a nation of free people. The liberal justices on the Court, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor who was appointed last year by Democrat President Barack Obama, voted against the black plaintiff and his fellow Chicago residents. The McDonald case provides a bird eye's view of the history of Democratic Party racism. Referenced in the Court's opinion is the 1856 Republican Party Platform that includes language about the "right of the people to keep and bear arms." A key source used by the Court is the book "Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877" by Dr. Eric Foner whose biography can be found on the Internet. Forner's book reveals how, before the Civil War ended, Southern States enacted "Slave Codes" that prohibited slaves from owning firearms. After Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in the rebelling States, and after Republicans pushed through the Thirteenth Amendment freeing all the remaining slaves, Democrats in the South persisted in keeping the newly freed slaves from owning the means to protect themselves - guns. The Supreme Court in the McDonald decision wrote about how, after the Civil War, the Southern States started passing laws, called "Black Codes", to systematically disarm blacks, specifically the over 180,000 blacks who returned to the States of the old Confederacy after serving in the Union Army. In response to the "Black Codes," the Republican-controlled Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. But the Democrats would not be deterred. Very soon after the 1866 law was enacted, Alabama, followed by other Southern States, again passed "Black Codes" that made it illegal for blacks to own firearms. Cited by the Court in the McDonald case, as an example of such a discriminatory code, is the Mississippi law that stated: "no freedman, free negro or mulatto, not in the military service of the United States government, and not licensed so to do by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry fire-arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife." In one Southern town, according to the Supreme Court, the marshal confiscated the weapons of the returning black Union soldiers and, at every opportunity, promptly shot black people.

Report faults U.S. for being too optimistic about Afghan security capabilities
Excerpt: Congress and the Obama Administration fail to understand the Afghanistan National Army/Police will never totally support a corrupt Afghanistan government and are only serving in the military/police for the money. They also know their limits as they will be killed by the Taliban once we leave Afghanistan. On another point, rules of engagement are getting our troops killed. The concept of giving medals for restricting our forces from firing first is absurd. If we are not going to do what is necessary to win this 9 year old war, then get out of there. General Petraeus has supported these rules of engagement and failed counterinsurgency plan, so he had better come up with another plan ASAP, or the war will drag on and we will ultimately be defeated.

Democrats quietly cheer high court gun ruling
I don’t agree. Only have to ask the Democrats if they support the court’s decision, or if they support legislation, now being offered in Chicago, to water down the decision. Excerpt: When the Supreme Court extended the individual right to own a gun Monday, it handed Second Amendment advocates — many of whom are at home in the GOP — one of their most significant legal victories ever. But who won the day in politics? The Democrats. For them, the court’s groundbreaking decision couldn’t have been more beneficial to the cause in November. Now, Democratic candidates across the map figure they have one less issue to worry about on the campaign trail. And they won’t have to defend Republican attacks over gun rights and an angry, energized base of gun owners. “It removes guns as a political issue because everyone now agrees that the Second Amendment is an individual right, and everybody agrees that it’s subject to regulation,” said Lanae Erickson, deputy director of the culture program at centrist think tank Third Way.

2nd Amendment Rights Finally Considered a Right for Black Chicagoans Too!
At long last the 2nd Amendment has been considered a personal right per the Supreme Court of the United States. In McDonald v the City of Chicago the Supreme Court has ruled in a 5 to 4 decision that Chicago’s gun banning laws are not in keeping with the right to self-defense as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. After 200 some years we are finally accorded our rights officially. Further, the Court found that the 2nd Amendment was meant to protect the very people that Mayor Richard Daley and his comrades are trying to forcibly disarm: black Americans

'We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges!'
Excerpt: The bandits in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" never said this famous line, not at least in the condensed way it's so often quoted. But the sentiment—disdain for law enforcement and the rule of law—is clear. And it happens to be the same sentiment behind the kneejerk opposition to the Arizona immigration law, which this week may elicit a legal challenge from the Justice Department. In this, the authors of the law were clever. They knew their law was no solution to the federal government's failures on immigration. They also knew—perhaps hoped—that the law would be challenged constitutionally, and that this challenge would likely end up in the Supreme Court. But they knew something else: By writing it the way they did, they would smoke out the "no badges" brigade—those who effectively oppose real enforcement of any immigration law. That's because at its core, the Arizona law adds nothing to immigration law. To the contrary, it empowers Arizona police to do their part to uphold that law when they have a "reasonable suspicion" that someone whom they've stopped for some other law enforcement reason is in the country illegally. On top of this, legislators added language to prohibit using racial profiling to make such a stop. The response has been illuminating. In Mexico, President Felipe Calderón declared that the Arizona law opened the door to "intolerance, hate, discrimination and abuse in law enforcement." In the ranks of Congress, members variously invoked—take your pick—"Jim Crow," "apartheid" and "Nazi Germany."

Terrorists Join the Traffic Across the Mexican Border
Excerpt: The debate about how to make our porous southern border safe and how to deal with millions of illegal aliens in our midst has been dragged into the sunlight by Arizona’s new laws. The vast majority of Arizona voters applauds those laws, yet the Obama administration ignores them as well as the rising tide of American public opinion. Why is that? Could it be the politicians who now rule us need millions of new Democrat voters? No wonder Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatens to sue Arizona. No wonder Attorney General Eric Holder says not “if” but “when.” Democrat officials are acting so strangely because recent primaries show their party is in trouble in lots of places for lots of reasons and needs lots of new Democrat voters. So amnesty and giving the right to vote to 12 million illegal aliens is essential, even if it means bleeding millions of scarce dollars from state budgets for free healthcare and free education for illegal aliens. Even if it means battles with Mexican drug cartels and a crime wave along the border. Democrats know a quick amnesty and the vote are essential because once 12 million illegal Latinos are enfranchised they will vote Democrat, and the Democrat Party will rule forever.

Kuwaiti Columnist: Pro-Gaza Activists Are Nothing but Terrorists
Excerpt: In a follow-up to his June 3, 2010 article on the Gaza flotilla [1] Kuwaiti columnist 'Abdallah Al-Hadlaq, who writes in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan, published another column on this issue. In it, he contrasted the global interest in what is happening in Gaza with the disregard to other, graver, humanitarian crises across the world. Al-Hadlaq also stated that the activists working to remove the siege on Gaza were not peace activists but terrorists disguised as humanitarians, and that therefore Israel was fully entitled to defend itself from them. Following are excerpts from his column: [2] The World Is Obsessed with the Situation in Gaza while It Ignores the Real Tragedies in the World. "The world is endlessly obsessed with a murky strip of coast, of no value whatsoever, the home of some 1.5 million [people] living in Palestinian refugee camps dispersed [throughout it] – that is, the Gaza Strip, which was taken over by a group of terrorists named the Hamas movement. "[This obsession contrasts with] the terrible silence, lack of consideration, and indifference that has overcome the world... with regard to more important and more valuable [issues] that merit attention far more than this murky piece of land called the Gaza Strip. Let us look together at the following examples:

The 30-Year War in Afghanistan
Excerpt: The Afghan War is the longest war in U.S. history. It began in 1980 and continues to rage. It began under Democrats but has been fought under both Republican and Democratic administrations, making it truly a bipartisan war. The conflict is an odd obsession of U.S. foreign policy, one that never goes away and never seems to end. As the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal reminds us, the Afghan War is now in its fourth phase. The first phase of the Afghan War began with the Soviet invasion in December 1979, when the United States, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, organized and sustained Afghan resistance to the Soviets. This resistance was built around mujahideen, fighters motivated by Islam. Washington’s purpose had little to do with Afghanistan and everything to do with U.S.-Soviet competition. The United States wanted to block the Soviets from using Afghanistan as a base for further expansion and wanted to bog the Soviets down in a debilitating guerrilla war. The United States did not so much fight the war as facilitate it. The strategy worked. The Soviets were blocked and bogged down. This phase lasted until 1989, when Soviet troops were withdrawn. The second phase lasted from 1989 until 2001. The forces the United States and its allies had trained and armed now fought each other in complex coalitions for control of Afghanistan. Though the United States did not take part in this war directly, it did not lose all interest in Afghanistan. Rather, it was prepared to exert its influence through allies, particularly Pakistan. Most important, it was prepared to accept that the Islamic fighters it had organized against the Soviets would govern Afghanistan. There were many factions, but with Pakistani support, a coalition called the Taliban took power in 1996. The Taliban in turn provided sanctuary for a group of international jihadists called al Qaeda, and this led to increased tensions with the Taliban following jihadist attacks on U.S. facilities abroad by al Qaeda. The third phase began on Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda launched attacks on the mainland United States. Given al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan, the United States launched operations designed to destroy or disrupt al Qaeda and dislodge the Taliban. The United States commenced operations barely 30 days after Sept. 11, which was not enough time to mount an invasion using U.S. troops as the primary instrument. Rather, the United States made arrangements with factions that were opposed to the Taliban (and defeated in the Afghan civil war). This included organizations such as the Northern Alliance, which had remained close to the Russians; Shiite groups in the west that were close to the Iranians and India; and other groups or subgroups in other regions. These groups supported the United States out of hostility to the Taliban and/or due to substantial bribes paid by the United States. The overwhelming majority of ground forces opposing the Taliban in 2001 were Afghan. The United States did, however, insert special operations forces teams to work with these groups and to identify targets for U.S. airpower, the primary American contribution to the war. The use of U.S. B-52s against Taliban forces massed around cities in the north caused the Taliban to abandon any thought of resisting the Northern Alliance and others, even though the Taliban had defeated them in the civil war.

Assessing the True Cost of Liberty
Excerpt: My eldest son has decided that he wants to be a marine. His plan is to enter the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and then serve his country as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. My son is still at an age when plans for the future change with the seasons. It may be that time brings about a change of his mind. Even so, when he announced his decision, I couldn’t help but smile. One often hears that this young generation is consumed with narcissism and the accumulation of wealth. When my son informed me that he wished to dedicate his life to serving his country, I felt a real sense of pride. As we approach the 234th anniversary of this nation’s independence, I have begun to think about what that type of service truly entails. The Marine Corp recruiting billboards state that the Marines do not accept applications--just commitments. What is the depth of that commitment? The answer became clear to me a few weeks ago as I stood on the grounds of the Los Angeles National Cemetery. I was participating in a Memorial Day program, which gave me an opportunity to speak to veterans, some of whom had been wounded and even disfigured during combat. It is one thing to objectively recognize the dangers inherent in military service, and it is quite another for a father to subjectively realize that one of the headstones in the cemetery might someday bear the name of his son. Suddenly, I began to think that a medical career might not be so bad. "Son," I said. "Have you thought about attending UCLA?" Nope. He has his heart set on becoming a leatherneck like his new hero, John Basilone.

Bosnia: Jihadists bomb police station; analysts state the obvious and warn of more to come
Maybe they didn’t get the memo? Excerpt: As is so often the case with the Balkans, analysts are quick to attribute the problem of jihadist activity to the influence of "Wahhabism," though without accounting for why the Wahhabists' teachings resonate so readily with what we were told were peaceful, secularized, tolerant Muslims. To suppose otherwise, of course, raises the specter of there being something about Islam, even among our modern, moderate "friends and allies" that is not of the Wahhabists' invention, but nonetheless generates acts like the one described below. In any event, however, the West in general, and NATO countries in particular, are dismally willing to stand idly by while Saudi petrodollars fund an Islamic revival, complete with its inherent problems of Sharia law and jihadist doctrine, in the Western pet project comprised by the Muslim components of the former Yugoslavia. At the root of that inaction are two issues: the economic blackmail of dependence on oil, and the politically correct article of faith that Islam must be a "Religion of Peace"... if people would just stop "misunderstanding" it.

Sharia Alert: Mother of two set to be stoned to death for adultery in Iran
Excerpt: The imam of the Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an open proponent of Sharia. This is what that means. "Iran: SKSW/WLUML Statement on planned stoning to death of young mother in East Azerbaijan Province," from Women Living Under Muslim Laws, June 18 (thanks to Banafsheh): The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women and the International Solidarity Network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws urge all concerned to immediately contact the Iranian officials to express their concern over the planned stoning to death of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. On 15 May 2006, Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani was convicted of having an 'illicit relationship' with two men and was sentenced to 99 lashes by Branch 101 of the Criminal Court of Osku, in East Azerbaijan Province. Then, in a September 2006 trial of a man accused of murdering her husband, Mohammadi-Ashtiani was once again accused of committing 'fornication while married'. During this trial, Mohammadi-Ashtiani retracted the 'confession' she supposedly made during pre-trial interrogation, alleging that she had been coerced to confess under duress, and declared her innocence. Two of the five judges found her not guilty, pointing to the lack of evidentiary proof in the case against her, and noting that she had already suffered 99 lashes due to her previous sentencing. Even though double jeopardy is illegal in Iran, the other three judges, including the presiding judge, found Sakineh guilty on the basis of the 'judge's intuition', a provision in Iranian law that allows judges to make their own subjective and arbitrary rulings based on a 'gut feeling', even in the absence of clear or conclusive evidence.

Belgian EU presidency would support enlargement
Boy, nothing the EU needs more that an Islamist state with a weak economy. Suicide. Excerpt: Olivier Chastel, the Belgian secretary of state for EU affairs, in a joint news conference with Spanish counterpart Diego Lopez Garrido, raised the possibility of the opening of a new chapter in negotiations with Turkey in the coming months after Spain, which currently holds the EU presidency, backed Ankara's bid despite resistance from France and Germany.

UN summer camp in Gaza vandalized
This would be the same Hamas that BO is giving your tax dollars to and US Leftists are supporting ending the arms blockade to? Excerpt: Two dozen masked men vandalized a U.N. summer camp for children in Gaza early Monday, burning and slashing tents, toys and a plastic swimming pool. It was the second such attack in just over a month.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Islamic extremists have accused the main U.N. aid agency here of corrupting Gaza's youth with its summer program of games, sports and human rights lessons for 250,000 children. The U.N.'s main competitor in running summer camps is the ruling Islamic militant Hamas movement, which says it reaches some 100,000 children. The Hamas camps teach Islam and military-style marching, along with swimming and horseback riding. In a statement on Monday's attack, the U.N. said about two dozen armed and masked men targeted a seaside camp in central Gaza, one of dozens of U.N. sites across the Palestinian territory.

Brewer: Obama giving twice the money to Mexico than Arizona for Nat. Guard

Arming of Terrorists, Attempt to Kill Defector Cited as Reasons to Return North Korea to Terror List
They keep trying to engage N. Korea like the west tried to engage Germany in the 1930s, with the same result, for the same reason. Excerpt: The Obama administration says the sinking of a South Korean warship does not justify returning North Korea to the U.S. list of terror-sponsoring states, but experts believe there are other good reasons for the administration to do so, including shipments of weapons allegedly destined for terrorists in the Middle East. Just two months ago, agents for the Stalinist regime detained in South Korea admitted they had been sent there to assassinate the highest-ranking North Korean ever to have defected, Hwang Jang-yop, the former secretary of Kim Jong-il’s ruling Workers Party. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters Monday the sinking last March of the Cheonan – which investigators attributed to a North Korean torpedo attack – was in the administration’s judgment “not an act of international terrorism and by itself would not trigger placing North Korea on the state sponsor of terrorism list.”

Gen. Petraeus' nomination puts some Democrats in awkward spot
Excerpt: President Barack Obama’s nomination of Gen. David Petraeus has put some Democrats in a politically awkward position. While Senate Democrats are expected to rally behind Petraeus to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan, they must also ask tough questions about when the U.S. will withdraw troops from the war-torn country. Many on the left are impatient with the Afghanistan war, and some Democrats are nervous much of their base may not show up to vote in this year’s midterm elections. Meanwhile, Republicans who are looking to drive a wedge between Democratic leaders and the liberal base have pointed to critical statements Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other leaders made about Petraeus a couple of years ago. During the 2007 surge in Iraq, anti-war Democrats — most notably — strongly criticized Petraeus. Liberal advocacy groups and senators at the time accused Petraeus of misrepresenting the success of the surge of nearly 40,000 troops. Two years later, the four-star general is widely credited for turning around the war in Iraq and holds strong respect among Republicans. And Obama’s decision to replace McChrystal was made easier by his selection of Petraeus, who is expected to be confirmed swiftly. The balancing act for Democrats begins Tuesday when the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold its confirmation hearing on Petraeus. Reid told CNN in April of 2007 he did not believe Petraeus’s claim that the surge was working in Iraq. “I don’t believe him, because it’s not happening,” Reid said. “All you have to do is look at the facts.” At a press conference a few months later, Reid said: “For someone, whether it’s Gen. Petraeus or anyone else, to say things are great in Baghdad isn’t in touch with what’s going on in Baghdad, even though he’s there and I’m not.” On Sept. 20 of that year, 25 Democrats voted against a resolution stating that Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, deserved the full support of the Senate and condemning personal attacks on his honor and integrity. That vote came after took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times in September of 2007 attacking Petraeus as “General Betray Us.” The three top-ranking members of the Democratic leadership, Reid and Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.), voted against the resolution. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who were both in the Senate at the time, didn’t vote on the measure.

How Obama bungled the oil spill: An inside story
Excerpt: It's one thing to say that Obama's Administration showed its ineptitude and mismanagement in its handling of the Gulf oil spill. It is quite another to grasp the situation up close as I did during a recent visit to Alabama. According to state disaster relief officials, Alabama conceived a plan — early on — to erect huge booms off shore to shield the approximately 200 miles of their state's coastline from oil. Rather than install the relatively light and shallow booms in use elsewhere, the state (with assistance from the Coast Guard) canvassed the world and located enough huge, heavy booms — some weighing tons and seven meters high — to guard their coast. So, Alabama decided on a backup plan. It would buy snare booms to catch the oil as it began to wash up on the beaches. But…the Fish and Wildlife Administration vetoed the plan saying it would endanger sea turtles that nest on the beaches. So, Alabama — ever resourceful — decided to hire 400 workers to patrol the beaches in person scooping up oil that had washed ashore. But…OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Agency) refused to allow them to work more than twenty minutes out of every hour and required an hour long break after forty minutes of work so the cleanup proceeded at a very slow pace. The short answer is that every agency — each with its own particular bureaucratic agenda — was able to veto each aspect of any plan to fight the spill with the unintended consequence that nothing stopped the oil from destroying hundreds of miles of wetlands, habitats, beaches, fisheries, and recreational facilities.

Cuban intelligence nexus with Mexican narcos
Excerpt: The detention of Gregorio “Greg” Sánchez Martínez (a leftist candidate for the Quintana Roo state governorship in Mexico) for money laundering and trafficking in illegal immigrants has exposed the nexus between Cuban intelligence and Mexican narcotraffickers, reports SIPSE. El Financiero cites José Antonio Pérez Stuart, a columnist and expert on intelligence matters, who believes that the objective of the political association between Cuban intelligence and narcotraffickers is the penetration of Castro agents in Mexican territory in order to infiltrate Mexican politics, control government positions and utilize them to their benefit. Behind the international campaign against the 2010 Arizona Immigration Law—SB1070 are bands of narco-communists, according to Pérez Stuart, in charge of infiltrating the United States from Mexico with Cuban, Chinese and Russian illegal immigrants. Havana’s intelligence services are under suspicion for utilizing trafficking channels of illegal Cuban immigrants to infiltrate intelligence agents into the United States because their spy networks have been discovered/dismantled in recent years.

Sex complaint against Gore is detailed, credible
Feminists used to say that “Women don’t lie about rape,” but dropped it after their ally Bill Clinton was accused of rape by a woman. Excerpt: The allegation that Al Gore sexually assaulted a woman in a Portland, Ore., hotel room nearly four years ago has dealt a serious blow to the former vice president's story that he and wife Tipper simply "grew apart" after 40 years of marriage. The police report of the masseuse's complaint is 73 pages long and extremely detailed. According to the document, she got a call from the front desk of the trendy Hotel Lucia on the night of Oct. 24, 2006. The hotel had a special guest. Could she come at 10:30 p.m.? She went to Gore's room carrying a folding massage table and other equipment. Gore, whom she had never met, greeted her with a warm embrace. "The hug went on a bit long, and I was taken just a bit aback by it," the masseuse told police. But she went along because Gore "was a VIP and a powerful individual and the Hotel Lucia had made it clear to me by inference that they were giving him 'the royal treatment.'" Gore said he was tired from travel and described in detail the massage he wanted. It included work on the adductor muscles, which are on the inside of the thighs. "I mentally noted that a request for adductor work is a bit unusual," the masseuse told police, because it can be "a precursor to inappropriate behavior by a male client." Gore also requested work on his abdomen. When that began, "He became somewhat vocal with muffled moans, etc.," the masseuse recounted. Gore then "demand[ed] that I go lower." When she remained focused on a "safe, nonsexual" area, Gore grew "angry, becoming verbally sharp and loud." The masseuse asked Gore what he wanted. "He grabbed my right hand, shoved it down under the sheet to his pubic hair area, my fingers brushing against his penis," she recalled, "and said to me, 'There!' in a very sharp, loud, angry-sounding tone." When she pulled back, Gore "angrily raged" and "bellowed" at her.

Media Routinely Used 'Conservative' Label on Bush Nominees to Supreme Court; Obama Picks Always 'Centrist'
To be fair, compared to most leftist media types, maybe they are centrists. Excerpt: When President Bush nominated John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in 2005, the media did not hesitate to describe both men as "very conservative," but when President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan this year many in the press couldn't seem to identify any liberal ideology. The Media Research Center has produced a video compilation of examples to further demonstrate the obvious double standard.

Obama postpones tax talk until after election
Excerpt: Putting off any tough decisions until after the election, President Obama warned that grim financial choices are coming -- including a look at the tax system. "I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step up, because I'm calling their bluff," Obama said. "And we'll see how much of the political arguments they're making right now are real, and how much of it was just politics." "These folks" referenced by Obama include congressional Republicans, who have criticized his deficit spending while balking at rolling back tax cuts or cutting spending. Republicans in the Senate recently cited the deficit in blocking an effort by Democrats to again extend the time Americans can receive unemployment benefits. And a looming issue for both parties is whether to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts, passed in 2001, which are set to expire in January.

Obama: If we work hard, Afghanistan could be a success…like Iraq!
Count this as an apology to President Bush and General Petraeus. Obama: “That doesn’t mean we suddenly turn off the lights and let the door close behind us. And if you look at what’s happening in Iraq right now, we have met every deadline. By the way, there was a timetable in place, and we are – we have – by the end of August, will have removed all of our combat from Iraq. We will maintain a military presence there. We will maintain military-to-military cooperation. And we are providing them assistance, but we’re meeting this deadline. And I think it is worth the extraordinary sacrifices that we are making – and when I say “we” – not just the United States, but all coalition members – to try to see a positive outcome in Afghanistan, as well.”

(Unicorn) The new white meat,0,7816178.story
This editorial is a stitch. Excerpt: It's a fine day when we come to work expecting to write about crime or government and end up reporting on, say, the Humboldt Park man with Rod Blagojevich's face tattooed on his thigh. Or the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile getting a parking ticket on Michigan Avenue. Or Mayor Daley joking about pointing a rifle up a reporter's pants. So we imagine an attorney who clocked in expecting to spend the day drafting a motion for continuance would jump at the chance to write a cease-and-desist letter to the purveyors of canned unicorn meat. What a great day to be a lawyer.

Lightening Strikes in Chicago
Good video. Think this was the storm last Wednesday I was out in.

Terrafugia Transition 'flying car' gets go-ahead from US air authorities
My next car. Excerpt: The Transition was designed as a "light sport" aircraft, the smallest kind of private aeroplane under FAA classification, with a maximum weight of 1,320lb. But the manufacturers found it impossible to fit the safety features - airbags, crumple zones and roll cage, for instance - that are required for road vehicles into that weight. Uniquely, however, the FAA has granted the Transition an exemption - allowing it to be classified as a light sport aircraft despite being 120lb over the limit. Light sport aircraft licences require just 20 hours' flying time, making them much easier to obtain than full private licences. The two-seater Transition can use its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds, with wings folded, at a respectable 30 miles per gallon. Once it has arrived at a suitable take-off spot - an airport, or adequately sized piece of flat private land - it can fold down the wings, engage its rear-facing propellor, and take off. The folding wings are electrically powered. Its cruising speed in the air is 115mph, it has a range of 460 miles, and it can carry 450lb. It requires a 1,700-foot (one-third of a mile) runway to take off and can fit in a standard garage.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Political Digest June 29, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Gun rights extended by Supreme Court
Excerpt: The Supreme Court held Monday that the Constitution's Second Amendment restrains government's ability to significantly limit "the right to keep and bear arms," advancing a recent trend by the John Roberts-led bench to embrace gun rights. By a narrow, 5-4 vote, the justices also signaled, however, that some limitations on the right could survive legal challenges. Writing for the court in a case involving restrictive laws in Chicago and one of its suburbs, Justice Samuel Alito said that the Second Amendment right "applies equally to the federal government and the states." The court was split along familiar ideological lines, with five conservative-moderate justices in favor of gun rights and four liberals opposed. Chief Justice Roberts voted with the majority. Two years ago, the court declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess guns, at least for purposes of self-defense in the home.

Corruption Suspected In Airlift Of Billions In Cash From Kabul
Your tax dollars at work. Gee, who would have suspected? Excerpt: More than $3 billion in cash has been openly flown out of Kabul International Airport in the past three years, a sum so large that U.S. investigators believe top Afghan officials and their associates are sending billions of diverted U.S. aid and logistics dollars and drug money to financial safe havens abroad. The cash—packed into suitcases, piled onto pallets and loaded into airplanes—is declared and legal to move. But U.S. and Afghan officials say they are targeting the flows in major anticorruption and drug trafficking investigations because of their size relative to Afghanistan's small economy and the murkiness of their origins. Officials believe some of the cash, if not most, is siphoned from Western aid projects and U.S., European and NATO contracts to provide security, supplies and reconstruction work for coalition forces in Afghanistan. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization spent about $14 billion here last year alone. Profits reaped from the opium trade are also a part of the money flow, as is cash earned by the Taliban from drugs and extortion, officials say. The amount declared as it leaves the airport is vast in a nation where the gross domestic product last year totaled $13.5 billion. More declared cash flies out of Kabul each year than the Afghan government collects in tax and customs revenue nationwide. "It's not like they grow money on trees here," said a U.S. official investigating corruption and Taliban financing. "A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen. And opium, of course."

Sen. Robert Byrd dead at 92; West Virginia lawmaker was the longest serving member of Congress in history
Democrats need to be careful praising him, though the media will give them a pass. Trent Lott lost his leadership position for throwing a small verbal bouquet to Strom Thurmond over his Dixeycrat past. Excerpt: A child of the West Virginia coal fields, Mr. Byrd rose from the grinding poverty that has plagued his state since before the Great Depression, overcame an early and ugly association with the Ku Klux Klan, worked his way through night school and by force of will, determination and iron discipline made himself a person of authority and influence in Washington. Although he mined extraordinary amounts of federal largesse for his perennially impoverished state, his reach extended beyond the bounds of the Mountain State. As chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on the District from 1961 to 1969, he reveled in his role as scourge, grilling city officials at marathon hearings and railing against unemployed black men and unwed mothers on welfare. (If they have trouble filling the seat, Blago here in IL will be happy to give some advice for a price.)

Robert C. Byrd, Corrupter of American Politics, RIP
Not everyone was a fan. Excerpt: We are not supposed to speak ill of the dead and I do try to hold to that, but as I clicked on the news this morning and saw alleged Republican Orrin Hatch lauding Senator Byrd, I began to be outraged. It is not a heroic thing for Byrd to have served in the Senate since 6 years before I was born – it is absurd. In addition to that, what Byrd did while Senator was a criminal betrayal of the American ideal.

The unknown Elena Kagan
Excerpt: When Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation hearings Monday, she will be a tabula rasa for large swaths of the American public. While Kagan has spent the six weeks since she was nominated by President Obama to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the high court meeting with senators and preparing for this week's hearings, the American public's gaze has been elsewhere. The ongoing oil spill on the Gulf Coast has been the story of the past month and, even last week when the Kagan hearings were rapidly approaching, the resignation/firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal by Obama turned the Supreme Court nominee into a secondary story -- at best. National polling bears out the fact that Kagan is barely known. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week, nearly six in ten (57 percent) didn't know enough about Kagan to offer an opinion. (Among those who did know enough about her to form an opinion, 11 percent felt positively toward Kagan, 13 percent negatively and 19 percent were neutral.) Asked what they thought of Kagan joining the court, 47 percent said they didn't know enough to venture an opinion. That's nearly double the percentage of people who said the same of now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor in July 2009 in NBC/WSJ polling. Under different circumstances, Kagan's relative anonymity would set up the hearings as a genuine jump ball, with both parties trying to win the perception battle over the coming week.

How Health Reform Will Impact Existing Plans,8599,1999208,00.html?xid=rss-mostpopular#ixzz0rtebnSBY
After the fact, left-leaning Time admits the truth. Excerpt: "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan." Throughout the long health care reform debate, that promise from President Obama was one of the few constants, made to reassure the bulk of Americans who already have insurance that the sweeping legislation would not have a downside. Just Tuesday, Obama tried to counter critics who say the new law contains a slew of unintended consequences. Announcing a fresh set of new insurance rules, he called the regulations "a true patients' bill of rights" and insisted that they are "not punitive." But now that regulations about existing employer-sponsored plans have been issued, it's becoming clear that many of the 160 million Americans with job-based coverage will not, in fact, be able to keep what they currently have. Republican critics of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act point to the Obama Administration's own estimates that by 2013, 39% to 69% of employer plans will be subject to new regulations and not grandfathered in, or exempted from the new rules. House minority leader John Boehner issued a press release about the new regulations with the headline "New ObamaCare Tagline Should Be 'If You Like Your Health Care Plan, Too Bad.' " That partisan rhetoric may be heated, but it's not entirely off base. The truth is that employer-based plans, which many assumed would easily be categorized as grandfathered, will be subject to the full regulatory thrust of the new law if they are altered in ways that are standard practice in the industry.

Energy Pipedreams
Excerpt: Just once, it would be nice if a president would level with Americans on energy. Barack Obama isn't that president. His speech the other night was about political damage control -- his own. It was full of misinformation and mythology. Obama held out a gleaming vision of an America that would convert to the "clean" energy of, presumably, wind, solar and biomass. It isn't going to happen for many, many decades, if ever. For starters, we won't soon end our "addiction to fossil fuels." Oil, coal and natural gas now supply about 85 percent of America's energy needs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects energy consumption to grow only an average of 0.5 percent annually from 2008 to 2035, but that's still a 14 percent cumulative increase. Fossil fuel usage would increase slightly in 2035 and its share would still account for 78 percent of the total. Unless we shut down the economy, we need fossil fuels. More efficient light bulbs, energy-saving appliances, cars with higher gas mileage may all dampen energy use. But offsetting these savings are more people (391 million vs. 305 million), more households (147 million vs. 113 million), more vehicles (297 million vs. 231 million) and a bigger economy (almost double in size). Although wind, solar and biomass are assumed to grow up to 10 times faster than overall energy use, they provide only 11 percent of supply in 2035, up from 5 percent in 2008. 9Doesn’t illegal immigration increase America’s “carbon footprint” and need for fossil fuels? )

Number of childless American women in their 40s has risen sharply since 1970s
When liberals were pushing birth control and abortion, I wonder if they realized that a lack of younger workers would eventually collapse the entitlement state? Nah, that requires thinking beyond the immediate.

Bam's Climate Rx: All Pain, No Gain
Excerpt: The cap-and-trade bill that the House passed last summer aims to force Americans to reduce those dreaded carbon emissions by 83 percent in less than four decades — to the same per-capita level as 1867. Yet, even under the Al Gore-approved climate-science models, the bill would do nothing to stop global warming. The bill is 1,000-plus pages of rules, regulations, handouts, subsidies and whatever else House leaders deemed necessary. Not one of the 435 members read the whole monstrosity — because the leadership dropped 300 new pages on their desks the night before they voted. Yet the central point is clear enough: The bill simply drives up the price of fossil-fuel based energy so high that the nation will have to somehow get along with only 17 percent of the gasoline and fossil-fuel-powered electricity that it uses today. Don't ask how much it will cost. No one really knows, since you can't put a price on something that has yet to be defined. Last Tuesday, President Obama cited the BP blowout as reason for the Senate to pass its version of the House bill. But senators know that expensive emission reductions are profoundly unpopular. Congress members found this out last summer when protests erupted nationwide within 24 hours of the bill's passage. Polls also suggest that a vote for the warming bill (especially on top of a vote for the health-care bill) is not a good way to keep a job in Congress this November.

Guns Save Lives
Excerpt: Now I know that more guns means -- hold onto your seat -- less crime. How can that be, when guns kill almost 30,000 Americans a year? Because while we hear about the murders and accidents, we don't often hear about the crimes stopped because would-be victims showed a gun and scared criminals away. Those thwarted crimes and lives saved usually aren't reported to police (sometimes for fear the gun will be confiscated), and when they are reported, the media tend to ignore them. No bang, no news. This state of affairs produces a distorted public impression of guns. If you only hear about the crimes and accidents, and never about lives saved, you might think gun ownership is folly. But, hey, if guns save lives, it logically follows that gun laws cost lives. Suzanna Hupp and her parents were having lunch at Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, when a man began shooting diners with his handgun, even stopping to reload. Suzanna's parents were two of the 23 people killed. (Twenty more were wounded.) Suzanna owned a handgun, but because Texas law at the time did not permit her to carry it with her, she left it in her car. She's confident that she could have stopped the shooting spree if she had her gun. (Texas has since changed its law.) Today, 40 states issue permits to competent, law-abiding adults to carry concealed handguns (Vermont and Alaska have the most libertarian approach: no permit needed. Arizona is about to join that exclusive club.) Every time a carry law was debated, anti-gun activists predicted outbreaks of gun violence after fender-benders, card games and domestic quarrels. What happened? John Lott, in "More Guns, Less Crime," explains that crime fell by 10 percent in the year after the laws were passed. A reason for the drop in crime may have been that criminals suddenly worried that their next victim might be armed. Indeed, criminals in states with high civilian gun ownership were the most worried about encountering armed victims. In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun-control laws, almost half of all burglaries occur when residents are home. But in the United States, where many households contain guns, only 13 percent of burglaries happen when someone’s at home.

There Is No ‘Good’ Communist
Excerpt: The idea that good people can be devoted Communists is grotesque. The two categories are mutually exclusive. There was a time, perhaps, when dedication to Communism could be absolved as misplaced idealism or naiveté, but that day is long past. ... [T]here are no good and decent Communists -- not after the Gulag Archipelago and the Cambodian killing fields and Mao's 'Great Leap Forward.' Not after the testimonies of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Armando Valladares and Dith Pran. In the decades since 1917, Communism has led to more slaughter and suffering than any other cause in human history. Communist regimes on four continents sent an estimated 100 million men, women, and children to their deaths -- not out of misplaced zeal in pursuit of a fundamentally beautiful theory, but out of utopian fanaticism and an unquenchable lust for power. Mass murder and terror have always been intrinsic to Communism. ... Communism is not, as its champions like to claim, an appealing doctrine that has been perverted by monstrous regimes. It is a monstrous doctrine that hides behind appealing rhetoric. It is mass crime embodied in government. Nothing devised by human beings has caused more misery or proven more brutal. ... Good people do not embrace Communism, and Communists are not good. (Actually, I know a few good people who naively believe that communism is good, that it has just never been done right and all the murdering regimes are not really “communist.” That it always ends in tyranny escapes them, because next time angles will be in charge.)

Will Elena Kagan Defend the Rule of Law?
Excerpt: The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin its hearing today on the nomination of Elena Kagan to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Kagan is no stranger to the confirmation process; in fact, she devoted one of her few academic writings entirely to the subject, writing: The Senate's consideration of a nominee, and particularly the Senate's confirmation hearings, ought to focus on substantive issues; the Senate ought to view the hearings as an opportunity to gain knowledge and promote public understanding of what the nominee believes the Court should do and how she would affect its conduct. Kagan's law review article specifically criticized recent confirmation hearings as "a vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes has replaced discussion of viewpoints and personal anecdotes have supplanted legal analysis." Instead, Kagan advocated that senators insist "on seeing how theory works in practice by evoking a nominee's comments on particular issues - involving privacy rights, free speech, race and gender discrimination, and so forth - that the Court regularly faces." Kagan even suggested that nominees with thin records (and Kagan's record can definitely be considered "thin," since she has no judicial experience, few academic writings, and virtually no litigation experience prior to her current post as Solicitor General), should face a heavier burden when answering senators' questions. So what "substantive issues" should senators press Kagan on to see how her "theory works in practice"? The First Amendment: As Solicitor General, Kagan asserted before the Supreme Court that government could ban political pamphlets. The core of the First Amendment is the protection of political speech. So not only does such a position therefore violate common sense, but its logic could be used to ban Thomas Paine’s Common Sense or other landmark political treatises, particularly if their authors were so foolish as to publish them through a non-profit corporation. Does Kagan believe that the First Amendment permits the government to ban pamphlets and books?

Obama's Unbelievable Winning Streak
(Peter Beinart is a clear, unapologetic leftist writing for a left-of-center website. I seldom agree with anything he has to say, and this is no exception. Nevertheless, it is worth seeing how diametrically opposed are the views of Obama's presidency and accomplishments. I notice the G-20 rejected his urgings to spend, spend, spend. I notice the oil is still spilling, and that government above the level of the states has contributed nothing to the solution except confusion, chaos, and obstruction. The few accomplishments I see for Obama are uniformly negative for the future of the country. Maybe that makes me a bad person. But, I doubt it. Ron P.) Excerpt: I know this is supposed to be Barack Obama’s summer of discontent. The oil spill is still gushing; the economy is still floundering; the Afghan war is deteriorating; Americans don’t find him so charming anymore. But have you noticed that when it comes to actual policy, he keeps racking up the wins? This week it was financial-regulatory reform. One can argue about whether the bill the Senate passed will truly change the way Wall Street operates, but off the top of your head, can you name a more significant piece of progressive legislation signed by either of the last two Democratic presidents? Neither can I. And that goes for Obama’s stimulus package and his health-care reform as well. All of which means that, legislatively at least, Obama has exceeded in 18 months what Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter achieved in a combined 12 years. By summer’s end, he’ll also have shepherded two young liberal justices on to the Supreme Court. (....) The question is why we’re paying so little attention. The answer is that the media views policy through the lens of politics. Unless a policy victory brings political benefits—rising poll numbers, better prospects for the next elections—it is not treated as a big win. Thus, the Tea Party movement is considered an ominous sign for Obama, evidence that the country is turning against him. But the reason that the Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin crowd is so angry is that Obama has expanded the federal government’s relationship with the private sector in fundamental ways. In political terms, the Tea Party movement may be a sign of Obama’s weakened position, but in policy terms, it is a testament to his success. As shrewd conservatives like David Frum recognize, the current mood of Republican optimism is wildly misplaced. When Republicans refused to compromise with Obama on health care, they gambled that he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, push through reform with only Democratic support. Then, when he did, they insisted that he was destroying his chances of passing future legislation. Now he’s proved them wrong again. So what if Obama’s legislative success prompts a backlash that buys the GOP a few more seats this fall? As Frum has asked pointedly, was it a win for the Republicans because after Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare they picked up seats in the midterm elections of 1966? The larger truth is this: Even as Republicans claim political momentum, the country is in the midst of a major shift leftward when it comes to the role of government.

Colombia's Army Shows Its Stuff
Excerpt: Colombians were overjoyed last week with the news that the army had rescued four hostages—including a police brigadier general—held for almost 12 years in the jungle by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The triumph—just a week before yesterday's runoff presidential election—was fortuitous for U Party candidate Juan Manuel Santos, who is President Alvaro Uribe's former defense minister. During Mr. Santos's defense-ministry tenure from 2006-2009, the Colombian military scored several decisive victories against the FARC. Those events were crucial for a country that only a decade ago was considered nearly a failed state. And as expected, Mr. Santos defeated Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus in a landslide. Yet the success of Operation Chameleon, as the army's rescue was dubbed, carries profound significance that goes well beyond election results. It inflicts major damage on the FARC's global propaganda campaign against the Colombian military and provides new revelations about the rebels' ruthlessness. What was learned in this spectacular liberation also reflects badly on leading Democrats in Washington who've been sympathetic to the FARC line. (Leftists talk about civil liberties at home, but always support tyranny abroad.)

VP Biden to shopkeeper: Stop being a ’smartass’
But is that a BFD, Joe? Excerpt: Vice President Joe Biden was caught on camera calling a Glendale, Wisconsin custard shop manager a “smartass” after the man asked the White House lower his taxes.

Culture of exposure claims another victim
Excerpt: The most interesting part of my job is that I get to observe powerful people at close quarters. Most people in government, I find, are there because they sincerely want to do good. But they’re also exhausted and frustrated much of the time. And at these moments they can’t help letting you know that things would be much better if only there weren’t so many morons all around. So every few weeks I find myself on the receiving end of a little burst of off-the-record trash talk. Senators privately moan about other senators. Administration officials gripe about other administration officials. People in the White House complain about the idiots in Congress, and the idiots in Congress complain about the idiots in the White House — especially if they’re in the same party. Washington floats on a river of aspersion. The system is basically set up to maximize kvetching. Government is filled with superconfident, highly competitive people who are grouped into small bands. These bands usually have one queen bee at the center — a president, senator, Cabinet secretary or general — and a squad of advisers all around. These bands are perpetually jostling, elbowing and shoving each other to get control over policy. Amid all this friction, the members of each band develop their own private language. These people often spend 16 hours a day together, and they bond by moaning about the idiots on the outside. It feels good to vent in this way. You demonstrate your own importance by showing your buddies that you are un-awed by the majority leader, the vice president or some other big name. You get to take a break from the formal pressures of the job by playing the blasphemous bad-boy rebel over a beer at night. Military people are especially prone to these sorts of outbursts. In public, they pay lavish deference to civilian masters who issue orders from the comfort of home. Among themselves, they blow off steam, sometimes in the crudest possible terms. Those of us in the press corps have to figure out how to treat this torrent of private kvetching. During World War II and the years just after, a culture of reticence prevailed. The basic view was that human beings are sinful, flawed and fallen. What mattered most was whether people could overcome their flaws and do their duty as soldiers, politicians and public servants. Reporters suppressed private information and reported mostly — and maybe too gently — on public duties.

Muslim Groups Talk War Over ‘Christianization’
A large group of people who need to read the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo! Excerpt: In a move that could add to already simmering religious tensions in Bekasi, a new group calling itself the Bekasi Islamic Presidium is planning a roadshow aimed at persuading every mosque in the city to prepare for the possibility of “war” against “Christianization.” The group, consisting of nine members representing different Islamic organizations in the city, was formed on Sunday, the last day of the Bekasi Islamic Congress at Al Azhar Mosque that was convened to address the so-called Christianization problem. Among its recommendations is the formation of Islamic militant groups, or laskar, within each mosque and the drafting of Shariah-based policies by the Bekasi administration. “All Muslims should unite and be on guard because … the Christians are up to something,” Mur¬hali Barda, head of the Bekasi chapter of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), told the Jakarta Globe. “Apparently they want to test our patience. We are planning to invite them for a dialogue to determine what they really want. If talks fail, this might mean war,” he warned. Murhali claimed that a certain Christian foundation had been relentlessly baptizing groups of people in the city, which has seen a number of religious conflicts in recent months. “The last one was on Wednesday. A number of buses were seen dropping off people, some wearing jilbabs, at a house in Kemang Pratama district in Bekasi. When our people interrogated the security guard, he said they came from Jakarta and were there to be baptized,” he said. However, Bekasi Police Chief Sr. Comr Imam Sugianto denied there had been a mass baptism. “All of them were students and they were at that house for recreation. They all went there for a swim,” he said. Abdul Qadir Aka, secretary general of the proselytization board at FPI Bekasi, said the militant groups were important. “When the need arrives we will have units that can be mobilized,” he said. “We cannot just depend on the FPI. We have hundreds and even thousands of mosques in Bekasi. Imagine what we can do together.”

Police find 11 beheaded bodies in Afghan south
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: The bodies of 11 men, their heads cut off and placed next to them, have been found in a violent southern province of Afghanistan, a senior police official said on Friday. A police patrol discovered the bodies on Thursday in the Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province, north of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, said police official Mohammad Gulab Wardak. "This was the work of the Taliban. They beheaded these men because they were ethnic Hazaras and Shi'ite Muslims," he said. The Taliban were not immediately available for comment about the incident. The militants usually dispute claims by Afghan and foreign security forces. Hazaras, who make up roughly 15 percent of Afghanistan's population of around 30 million, largely follow the Shi'ite sect of Islam, a minority in Afghanistan, rather than the Sunni Muslim Taliban, who are also primarily ethnic Pashtuns. Hazaras faced widespread oppression from the Taliban when the Islamists ruled most of the country during the 1990s. Mass graves containing the bodies of Hazaras have been found since the militants were overthrown in late 2001.

'Turkish man plotted to kill rabbis'
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: The individual, Ismet Rencber, had been tracked after mailing a threatening anonymous letter to the main synagogue in Istanbul and was stopped by security forces upon his arrival at a relative's home in the city's suburbs. Rencber, a mason from the city of Kars in eastern Turkey, denied that he intended to kill any Jews, but told investigators that he "hated Jews."

How bad is our fiscal crisis?
The collapse is coming. No idea what I should be doing about it, even in my own finances. Excerpt: Economists on the left and right are expressing concern — in some cases alarm — over the fiscal health of the U.S. government. Currently, we are running a deficit equal to about 10% of GDP; but the government is still able to borrow at 3%. No other country in the world could do that. And we may not be able to do it much longer. We may be living in the calm before the storm. As in the case of Greece — and possibly all of southern Europe — international investors may decide that we have neither the will nor the ability to pay back our debtors. In that case, the government’s borrowing costs will soar. How bad are things? How much of the problem is health care? Can we tax our way out of it? My own view is that the crisis is going to begin at the bottom and rise to the top. Already we have seen some local governments declare bankruptcy. Expect more of that. In the next several years, I believe some very large cities are going to announce that they cannot pay their bills. State governments will be next. Whereas local governments can declare bankruptcy, state governments can only default. A default by the state of California seems almost inevitable. But is it conceivable that the U.S. government could default? Actually, yes. Every projection shows the gap between spending and tax revenues rising through time. And the problem at the federal level is basically the same as it is at the state and local levels: We made promises, mainly promises of benefits for retirees, that we were unwilling to fund. Two years ago the first of the baby boomers started claiming early retirement under Social Security. Next year, they will start signing up for Medicare. Before they are through, 78 million people will quit working, quit paying taxes, quit contributing to our retirement system and start drawing benefits instead. And we are not ready for them. Not in Social Security. Or Medicare. Or Medicaid. By not ready, I mean we have put no money aside to pay for the benefits the baby boomers think they have been promised. In terms of short-term cash flow, the Obama administration is forecasting that federal spending will be at 25% of GDP by 2020, while revenues will be less than 20%. To keep the deficit at no more than 3% of GDP (not zero, but 3%), an Urban Institute/Brookings tax analysis suggests that tax rates must rise by 40% beginning in 2015. That means the bottom 10% rate would have to climb to 14% and the top 35% rate would go from 35% to 48%. The problem is not just a federal problem. State and local governments have unfunded retiree obligations of $2 trillion or more.

Athens to Sacramento in Three Seconds
Excerpt: The self-imposed Greek financial tragedy has rocked the world economy and brought the European Union almost to its knees, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. The parallels between what has caused Greece to get to this point and the looming disaster in California go way beyond the surface. Whether California will have the same effect on America that Greece has had on Europe is yet to be determined. Governor Chris Christie makes an effective argument for New Jersey being America’s Greece. In fact, the New Jersey state deficit exceeds California’s as a percentage of its overall budget, and no one would argue that the public employee unions in New Jersey are less entrenched than in California or Greece. But at least New Jersey has the newly-elected Christie, who speaks with honesty and candor about the state’s challenges, and provides a slice of reality to its residents. California, in contrast, has the hapless Arnold, who has been in La-La land for six years with no end in sight.

Obama meets Ahmadinejad
Have to add to my reading list. Excerpt: Rave reviews greet Imani's latest parody. In this work of fiction, Amil probes the minds of Obama and Ahmadinejad with the skills of a brain surgeon, and shares their exchanges with the humor of a stand-up comedian. An amazing and astonishing engagement follows, in which the two presidential prizefighters hit each other with their best shots, in a meaty and oft-comical altercation that involves tossing out virtually every real or rumored misdeed of both men, with a number of stunning propositions and shocking developments along the way. This international sparring match runs the gamut of flashy moves and shady deals. Who will win this wild and brutal battle of wits between these two political heavyweights? The destiny of the world may depend on it. Author Amil Imani is an Iranian-American writer, poet, novelist, essayist, literary translator, public speaker and political analyst who has been writing and speaking out about the danger of radical Islam both in America and internationally. He has become a formidable voice for the struggling people of his native land of Iran. Born in Tehran, Imani moved to the United States during the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

N. Korea may formalize power transfer from Kim Jong Il to son
Excerpt: North Korea announced Saturday that it would hold a rare meeting that analysts predicted would herald the rise of Kim Jong Un, a son of ruler Kim Jong Il, as the new leader of the isolated Stalinist dictatorship. Official state news media reported that delegates from the ruling Korean Workers' Party would meet in September to select a new party leadership. Analysts said the gathering had all the hallmarks of a similar meeting in 1980 when Kim Jong Il was elevated to the Politburo to replace his father, Kim Il Sung. The planned handoff of power, a topic of speculation since Kim Jong Il, 68, suffered an apparent stroke in August 2008, comes as nuclear-armed North Korea must deal with a crumbling economy, famine and the international response to its recent deadly sinking of a South Korean warship.

Military Families Caution Senators on Kagan Nomination
As I keep pointing out, she was baring the recruiters for following the lawful orders of their Commander in Chief, Bill Clinton—but she didn’t bar Clinton, who gave the order. So the posture really was anti-military, not pro gay. Excerpt: As Supreme Court-nominee Elena Kagan undergoes her first day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday a military families group is raising concerns about her fitness to serve on the high court. The group, Military Families United, sent a letter on Friday to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) citing Kagan’s actions to block military recruiters from Harvard Law School – when she was the dean there (2003-09) – based on her opposition to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bars homosexuals from serving openly in the military. “We find Ms. Kagan’s failure to offer support to our military in a time of war, and her willingness to defy federal law as troubling and appalling,” said the letter signed by Robert Jackson, director of government relations for Military Families United.

Iran Postpones Any Nuclear Talks Until Late August
Reminds me of a guy in the Corps who owed me $5 after challenging me to a chess game. What he didn’t pay, I asked him for it. Twice. Then he said because I’d been bugging him, he wasn’t going to pay. Excerpt: Iran will not hold talks with the West over its nuclear program until late August to "punish" world powers for imposing tougher sanctions against the country, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday. He also vowed that Iran will retaliate should its ships be searched over suspicions that the cargo may violate the new sanctions, which were approved by the U.N. Security Council earlier this month. The European Union and U.S. Congress followed with new punishing measures in a bid to show the Iranian government that notions of becoming a nuclear power could be accompanied by a steep economic price. Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions are peaceful. Ahmadinejad accused the world powers of approving the sanctions to give them the upper hand in talks over the issue. "We call this bad temper," he said, adding talks on the issue would be postponed until the end of the Iranian month of Mordad, which would be about Aug. 20. "This is a fine to punish them a bit so that they learn the custom of dialogue with our nation." The Iranian leader also set three conditions for an eventual resumption of talks, saying countries who want to participate should make clear whether they oppose Israel's purported atomic arsenal, whether they support the Nonproliferation Treaty and whether they want friendship or hostility toward Iran.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul's health care
Excerpt: Democrats might not consider $109 billion in taxes over the program's first 10 years to be controversial. But taking $150 to $250 out of each monthly paycheck will cause problems for millions of Americans. This is yet another example of Mr. Obama breaking his promise not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year. It's not what we consider a very classy act.

Blue Screen of Death
Having continued troubles, if I miss some days of the blog