Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Political Digest June 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.

Grabbed a few minutes to post some things that came in. Hope more tomorrow night. ~Bob

Students plan counter-flotilla,7340,L-3899835,00.html
Excerpt: Israeli students are planning a "peace flotilla" to Turkey with humanitarian aid for nations who suffered under Turkish imperialism – the Kurds and Armenians. The initiative comes in response to the world's sharp criticism of Israel's lethal raid on the Gaza flotilla which left nine activists dead and many wounded. The organizers are currently seeking a suitable vessel and trying to recruit other students to the cause. No date has yet been set, but a skipper has been found: Arik Ofir, a member of the navy veteran's union and owner of a private business. They have also obtained medical supplies, and hope that by the end of the week they will be able to set out.

Gaza-flotilla-The Love Boat

The Limits of Public Opinion: Arabs, Israelis and the Strategic Balance
Excerpt: Last week's events off the coast of Israel continue to resonate. Turkish-Israeli relations have not quite collapsed since then but are at their lowest level since Israel's founding. U.S.-Israeli tensions have emerged, and European hostility toward Israel continues to intensify. The question has now become whether substantial consequences will follow from the incident. Put differently, the question is whether and how it will be exploited beyond the arena of public opinion. The most significant threat to Israel would, of course, be military. International criticism is not without significance, but nations do not change direction absent direct threats to their interests. But powers outside the region are unlikely to exert military power against Israel, and even significant economic or political sanctions are unlikely to happen. Apart from outside powers' desire to limit their involvement, this is rooted in the fact that significant actions are unlikely from inside the region either.

Must Read: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
This comes as no surprise. Hard to have a minimal grasp of basic economics and support BO, Nancy and Harry. Excerpt: Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101. Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents' (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian. Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened. Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: "Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable." People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure. Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.

America is still the best guarantor of freedom and prosperity
For how long? Excerpt: Much nonsense has been written in recent years about the prospects of American decline and the inevitable rise of China. But it was not a declining power that I saw in recent weeks as I jetted from the Middle East to the Far East through two of America's pivotal geographic commands — Central Command and Pacific Command. The very fact that the entire world is divided up into American military commands is significant. There is no French, Indian or Brazilian equivalent — not yet even a Chinese counterpart. It is simply assumed without much comment that American soldiers will be central players in the affairs of the entire world. It is also taken for granted that a vast network of American bases will stretch from Germany to Japan — more than 700 in all, depending on how you count. They constitute a virtual American empire of Wal-Mart-style PXs, fast-food restaurants, golf courses and gyms.

FARC Cashes in on Mexican Drug War
Coming soon to a location near you, thanks to open borders. Excerpt: Mexico’s drug war is still raging, with over 22,000 people having been killed since 2006. Now, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, often referred to as the FARC, are teaming up with the drug lords. The Marxist terrorist group’s ties to Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and other organizations make the conflict to the south a major threat to the United States. The violence in Mexico is severe. In the first two days of May, 25 people were killed in Chihuahua, with several of the murders happening in Ciudad Juarez. As the month of May began, 62 people had been killed in the city over the previous week, bringing the total to 850 lives lost in that city alone in 2010. Last year, the Joint Forces Command warned that Mexico and Pakistan were the two countries most at risk of “rapid and sudden collapse.” There have been arrests of high-profile drug lords, but the violence and corruption continues. The latest arrest of Mario Ernesto Villanueva Madrid revealed how deeply he had corrupted Mexican law enforcement. Documents captured after his arrest found that he was bribing those commanding the police and soldiers searching him, which explains how he was able to avoid capture for 11 years. The New York Times described Madrid as running “a sophisticated counterintelligence operation.” The drug lords are growing bolder, and instead of opening fire when they are pursued, they are now on the offensive. They are directly attacking the police, soldiers, and those serving the government.

Drug Errors Peak in July When New Docs Start
Don’t go to the hospital in July. Excerpt: Fatal medication errors in U.S. hospitals peak in July, possibly because of the inexperience of new medical residents, a new study finds. Thousands begin their medical residencies in July, and those first weeks may be a dangerous time for patients in teaching hospitals, suggest researchers at the University of California, San Diego. The team analyzed 244,388 death certificates issued between 1979 and 2006 that listed medication error as the primary cause of death. Fatal medication errors spiked each July only in counties with teaching hospitals. In these counties, July deaths from medication mistakes were 10 percent higher than the expected level, the researchers report in the current issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Agencies warn of coming doctor shortage,0,7762076.story
And declining reimbursement, increased pressure and increased government control and regulations will make it much worse. Takes at least 13-15 years after high school to get to be a doctor, depending on the specialty, and it’s grueling. As the rewards decrease, few of the best and brightest will put up with that, and the huge college loans, to become docs. Incentives matter. Britain under the NHS imports about a third of its doctors from the third world. That, of course, lowers the quality of care both there and in the home countries of those docs. It’s a great world these folks in Washington are building. Excerpt: Stories of emergency rooms pushed to capacity and wait times at physicians' offices have become legendary. Now the passage of healthcare reform — potentially funneling 30 million new people into an already-packed system — has some groups warning that the nation will soon see a shortage of doctors. The Assn. of American Medical Colleges has warned of a deficiency of up to 125,000 doctors by 2025. And it isn't the only group voicing concerns. The Health Resources and Services Administration, a federal agency that works to improve healthcare access for the uninsured, has projected that the supply of primary-care physicians will be adequate through 2020, at which point there will be a deficit of 65,560 physicians. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates the need for almost 149,000 extra doctors by that year.

John Bolton: Israel Must Strike Iran NOW
Excerpt: Iran Will Have Nukes Before the United Nations or Obama Do Anything. ….Bolton said an Israeli military option "isn't there forever. ... If Israel is going to use military force, it needs to use it sooner rather than later."... "Since I don't see any possibility that the Obama administration will use military force, I think what that means – to cut to the chase – is this comes down to a decision by Israel whether or not it will use military force against Iran's program."

Tuesday targets: Nine races to watch
I’ll post this before the results are in as I’ll be on the road then. Excerpt: South Carolina’s freak show politics, the progressive left’s Arkansas muscle flexing, the astounding and obscene amount of statewide election spending in California — at least $120 million-plus and rising — all of it is part of Tuesday’s dramatic primary election narrative. Yet the headline-grabbing excesses of a few states have obscured a larger fact: With a Senate runoff, a House special election and 10 states going to the polls, it’s the single biggest day on the 2010 election calendar prior to November.

No Worse Friend, No Better Enemy,_no_better_enemy
Excerpt: Generations of U.S. Marines have exemplified the motto "No better friend, no worse enemy" with their unstinting dependability in the face of adversity, and their ferocity in combat. To the extent that the country as a whole has hewed to these time-tested principles, the world has been made more stable and American interests more secure. In its time in office, however, the Obama administration has increasingly turned that formula on its head. The message of its policies and conduct is as unmistakable as it is ominous: Better to be an enemy of the United States than its friend. Consider, for example, the starkly contrasting treatment associated with two recent episodes at sea. In the first, a North Korean submarine engaged in an act of war when it covertly torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel on March 21, resulting in the latter's sinking with the loss of 46 lives.

Remember Those Deficit Savings From Obamacare?
Excerpt: In case you missed it — because for some reason, the Washington media types didn’t find time to cover this story — Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf offered an astounding rejection of the notion that the new health care regime, which President Obama frequently cited as a profound and necessary deficit-lowering measure, does anything to improve America’s deficit picture. This is less news to you, of course. But it’s newsworthy because of who’s saying it. As Keith Hennessey put it, “Never before have I seen a CBO Director so bluntly refute the policy claims of a President and his Budget Director.”

Prisoners convert to Islam for jail perks
Maybe we should all become Muslims by making the declaration of faith, and demand special handling. Excerpt: Inmates are converting to Islam in order to gain perks and the protection of powerful Muslim gangs, the Chief Inspector of Prisons warns today. Dame Anne Owers says that some convicted criminals are taking up the religion in jail to receive benefits only available to practising Muslims.

Bloodlust of NJ 'jihadists'
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Excerpt: They were the hate-filled, homegrown terrorists next door -- ready to cut your head off if they got the chance.
"They only fear you when you have a gun and when you, when you start killing them and when you take their head, and you go like this, and you behead it on camera," hissed terrorist wannabe Mohamed Alessa, 20, of North Bergen, NJ, during an undercover operation in 2009, a federal complaint unsealed yesterday revealed. "My soul cannot rest until I shed blood." Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 24, of Elmwood Park, NJ, were busted at JFK Airport on Saturday night, trying to leave the country on separate flights for Cairo, allegedly en route to Somalia for training to kill Americans overseas -- and back at home.

Danish reporter: Humanitarian crisis in Gaza? What humanitarian crisis?
Excerpt: Judging from the media, the situation in Gaza is desperate, everything is about to collapse, and the community is on the brink or at the level of a third world country.
The Palestinian community's immediate downfall has been prophesied numerous times in the media. People have nothing to eat, we sometimes know. The UN must from time to time to stop food distribution, either because their stocks are running low, or because they can not get diesel for their trucks, and therefore can not carry food in. And so on. Yesterday I drove into the Gaza Strip. I don't do this as often as before [because it takes much longer to get through the checkpoints now.] This time, I had expected to see real suffering, because with all the fuss in recent days about bringing tons of humanitarian relief in - so much that people actually sacrificed their lives for it - there certainly had to really be a deep, desperate situation in the Gaza Strip. No food. Long queues in front of UN food stocks. Hungry children with food bowls. But this was not the picture that greeted me. When I yesterday morning drove through Gaza City, I was immediately surprised that there are almost as many traffic jams as there always has been. Is there not a shortage of fuel? Apparently not. Gasoline is not even rationed. Many shops were closed yesterday, Hamas has declared a general strike in protest against Israel's brutal and deadly attack on the Turkish flotilla with pro-Palestinian activists on board. So it was difficult to estimate how many products were on the shelves. Therefore I went over to the Shati refugee camp, also known as Beach Camp. Here is one of Gaza's many vegetable markets that sell much more than just fruits and vegetables.

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Subjected to 528 Assaults from January – June 2008, Statistics Show U.S. Border Incursions on the Rise in 2008 and 2009
Excerpt: Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that on March 22, 2010, it received records from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) concerning Mexican Government incursions and encounters along the U.S. border. The documents which are incomplete and do not contain all of the relevant data nonetheless indicate an increase in the number of incursions in 2008 and 2009. Judicial Watch’s analysis of the data shows:

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