Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Political Digest August 31, 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.

GOP chances of winning House are rising as midterm election nears
Excerpt: The playing field of competitive House races has expanded substantially over the past two months, increasing the chances that Republicans will control the lower chamber next year. The news is good for Republicans, as many open seats are trending to the GOP while dozens of Democratic incumbents are scrambling to keep their jobs.
Democratic leaders are on the defensive, making the case they can still retain the majority in November while playing defense in districts they weren't expecting to be concerned about earlier in the cycle. As the election environment has worsened for Democrats amid troubling new economic and polling data, Republicans have become increasingly bullish in their projections of major House gains. (Let us not count these chickens until in the pot. Work now, celebrate afterwards. ~Bob)

In 2010, Obama's poll numbers less of an asset for congressional Democrats
Excerpt: Two years can change just about everything in politics. In the 2008 campaign, Democrats running for the Senate did anything - and everything - to associate themselves with then-Sen Barack Obama of Illinois. With about two months remaining in the 2010 campaign season, however, Obama's political fortunes have dipped in a handful of states holding competitive Senate races - complicating the winning math for Democratic candidates already struggling with a pessimistic electorate that remains deeply concerned about the country's direction. "In midterm elections, the presidential numbers serve like a weight on scale," said one senior Democratic consultant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about the playing field. "The heavier [or worse] the numbers, the harder it is for any person in the party to get back to even keel."

Cash-Poor Governments Ditching Public Hospitals
Excerpt: Faced with mounting debt and looming costs from the new federal health-care law, many local governments are leaving the hospital business, shedding public facilities that can be the caregiver of last resort.

Excellent, balanced essay: The Parent Model
Excerpt: During the first half of this year, German and American political leaders engaged in an epic debate. American leaders argued that the economic crisis was so bad, governments should borrow billions to stimulate growth. German leaders argued that a little short-term stimulus was sensible, but anything more was near-sighted. What was needed was not more debt, but measures to balance budgets and restore confidence. The debate got pointed. American economists accused German policy makers of risking a long depression. The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, countered, “Governments should not become addicted to borrowing as a quick fix to stimulate demand.” The two countries followed different policy paths. According to Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, the Americans borrowed an amount equal to 6 percent of G.D.P. in an attempt to stimulate growth. The Germans spent about 1.5 percent of G.D.P. on their stimulus. This divergence created a natural experiment. Who was right? The early returns suggest the Germans were. The American stimulus package was supposed to create a “summer of recovery,” according to Obama administration officials. Job growth was supposed to be surging at up to 500,000 a month. Instead, the U.S. economy is scuffling along. The German economy, on the other hand, is growing at a sizzling (and obviously unsustainable) 9 percent annual rate. Unemployment in Germany has come down to pre-crisis levels.

Little-known fact: Obama's failed stimulus program cost more than the Iraq war
Excerpt: Expect to hear a lot about how much the Iraq war cost in the days ahead from Democrats worried about voter wrath against their unprecedented spending excesses.
The meme is simple: The economy is in a shambles because of Bush's economic policies and his war in Iraq. As American Thinker's Randall Hoven points out, that's the message being peddled by lefties as diverse as former Clinton political strategist James Carville, economist Joseph Stiglitz, and The Nation's Washington editor, Christopher Hayes.
The key point in the mantra is an alleged $3 trillion cost for the war. Well, it was expensive to be sure, in both blood and treasure, but, as Hoven notes, the CBO puts the total cost at $709 billion. To put that figure in the proper context of overall spending since the war began in 2003, Hoven provides this handy CBO chart showing the portion of the annual deficit attributable to the conflict:

FDR and the Lessons of the Depression
Excerpt: In 1937, after several years of partial recovery from the Great Depression, the U.S. economy fell into a sharp recession. The episode has become a lightning rod in the ongoing debate about whether the economy needs further increases in government spending to keep employment from declining even more. Christina Romer, the outgoing chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, started this debate last year in The Economist by drawing a parallel to 1937 for anyone getting cold feet about increased government spending and soaring deficits. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman chimed in by claiming that the economy will repeat the experience of the 1930s if government spending is not increased. The economy did not tank in 1937 because government spending declined. Increases in tax rates, particularly capital income tax rates, and the expansion of unions, were most likely responsible. Unfortunately, these same factors pose a similar threat today. Here are the facts: Real government spending, measured in 1937 dollars, declined by less than 0.7% of GDP between 1936 and 1937, and then rebounded in 1938. It is implausible that such a small and temporary decline reduced real GDP by nearly 3.5% in 1938 or reduced industrial production by about one-third. But in 1936, the Roosevelt administration pushed through a tax on corporate profits that were not distributed to shareholders. The sliding scale tax began at 7% if a company retained 1% of its net income, and went to 27% if a company retained 70% of net income. This tax significantly raised the cost of investment, as most investment is financed with a corporation's own retained earnings. The tax rate on dividends also rose to 15.98% in 1932 from 10.14% in 1929, and then doubled again by 1936. Research conducted last year by Ellen McGratten of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis suggests that these increases in capital income taxation can account for much of the 26% decline in business fixed investment that occurred in 1937-1938.

Doctors as Engineers
Excerpt: There are two fundamentally different ways of thinking about complex social systems: the economic approach and the engineering approach. The social engineer sees society as disorganized, unplanned and inefficient. Wherever he looks, he sees underperforming people in flawed organizations producing imperfect goods and services. The solution? Let experts study the problem, discover what should be produced and how to produce it, and then follow their advice. Social engineers invariably believe that a plan devised by people at the top can work, even though everyone at the bottom has a self interest in defeating it. Implicitly, they assume that incentives don’t matter. Or, if they do matter, they don’t matter very much. To the economist, by contrast, incentives are everything. Complex social systems display unpredictable spontaneous order, with all kinds of unintended consequences of purposeful action. To have the best chance of good social outcomes, people at the bottom must find that when they pursue their own interests they are meeting the needs of others. Perverse incentives almost always lead to perverse outcomes. In the 20th century, country after country and regime after regime tried to impose an engineering model on society as a whole. Most of those experiments have thankfully come to a close. By the century’s end, the vast majority of the world understood that the economic model, not the engineering model, is where our hopes should lie. Yet there are two fields that are still completely dominated by people who steadfastly resist the economic way of thinking. They are health care and education…..The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was heavily influenced by the engineering model. Who, but a social engineer, would think you can control health care costs by running “pilot programs”? What’s the purpose of a pilot program if not to find something that appears to work so that you can then order everybody else go copy it? Pilot programs are a prime example of the social engineer’s fool’s errand.

A consumer’s guide to the healthcare bill
Not intended to be political, just the facts. Excerpt: a consumer's guide to how the new health care overhaul works, in a question-and-answer format. You can also get a pamphlet version-- ideal for doctors' offices, clinics, work places and everywhere else that people meet and socialize.

"Fathom the odd hypocrisy that Obama wants every citizen to prove they are insured, but they don't have to prove they are citizens." ~ Ben Stein

GOP lawmaker warns U.S. faces 'lost decade' because of debt
Excerpt: The U.S. economy faces a “lost decade” like the one Japan suffered through in the 1990s if the government continues to spend and rack up debt, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Monday. Ryan, one of the GOP’s leading voices on the economy, said the White House and congressional Democrats have spent too much and pushed policies that have created too much uncertainty for the private sector. We are basically replicating the kinds of economics the Japanese did in the 1990s,” he said. “We are buying ourselves a lost decade” Japan's government in the 1990s tried to boost its country out of recession through infusions of public works spending, but its economy grew at relatively slow rates in those years compared to the 1980s, when Japan’s economy expanded to nearly the size of the United States's economy. China is now surpassing Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy.

Huge gap in world cancer survival
From the BBC. And remember that the lower life expectancy of Americans is due to poor health habits, accidents and violence, none of which will be addressed by ObamaCare. ~Bob. Excerpt: The study showed the US had the highest five-year survival rates for breast cancer at 83.9% and prostate cancer at 91.9%. Japan came out best for male colon and rectal cancers, at 63% and 58.2% respectively, while France fared best for women with those cancers at 60.1% and 63.9%. The UK had 69.7% survival for breast cancer, just above 40% for colon and rectal cancer for both men and women and 51.1% for prostate cancer.

From a Marine I was with in Vietnam
August 30, 1146. Crossbow Ban Didn't Work Either. On this date in 1146, European leaders outlawed crossbows, intending to end war for all time -- thus proving crossbow bans don't work either.

Obama needs to relearn the art of politicking
Could it be that his policies are disastrous and are turning off Americans who get that? Nah, must be the Great Communicator has a communication problem. Excerpt: President Obama's address to the nation on Iraq this week underscores the agony of his presidency and its core political problem. Seen from the inside, the administration is an astonishing success. Obama has kept his principal promises and can take credit for achievements that eluded his Democratic predecessors.

Conservatives, Unlike Liberals, Keep Mall Clean After Rally
They could have heated Al Gore’s mansion by burning the trash from BO’s inauguration. Excerpt: Compare and contrast. The National Mall after Barack Obama's inauguration:

MSNBC Swears to Allah That Obama's Not a Muslim
Excerpt: MSNBC's Monday programming was dedicated to denouncing Sen. Mitch McConnell's response to a question about whether Obama is a Muslim. McConnell said: "We all have to rely on the word of (Barack Obama) -- something about as reliable as a credit default swap." No, I'm sorry, that's what The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan said about whether Trig Palin was really Sarah Palin's child. McConnell responded by demanding that Obama be fired -- or at least have his security clearance suspended. No, no -- wrong again: That was Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Chuck Schumer, respectively, not taking Karl Rove at his word when he said he had not released Valerie Plame's name to the press. (It turned out Rove was telling the truth; it was Richard Armitage, and it wasn't a crime.) What McConnell actually said in response to the Muslim question was: "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word. I don't think that's in dispute." Over at MSNBC, that's Republican code for: "He's a Muslim!"

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson violated rules, steered scholarships to relatives
Someone else Nancy needs to drain from the swamp. But won’t. ~Bob. Excerpt: Longtime Dallas congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has awarded thousands of dollars in college scholarships to four relatives and a top aide's two children since 2005, using foundation funds set aside for black lawmakers' causes. The recipients were ineligible under anti-nepotism rules of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which provided the money. And all of the awards violated a foundation requirement that scholarship winners live or study in a caucus member's district. Johnson, a Democrat, denied any favoritism when asked about the scholarships last week. Two days later, she acknowledged in a statement released by her office that she had violated the rules but said she had done so "unknowingly" and would work with the foundation to "rectify the financial situation." Initially, she said, "I recognized the names when I saw them. And I knew that they had a need just like any other kid that would apply for one." Had there been more "very worthy applicants in my district," she added, "then I probably wouldn't have given it" to the relatives.

This Is Why There Are No Jobs in America
Excerpt: I'd like to make you a business offer. Seriously. This is a real offer. In fact, you really can't turn me down, as you'll come to understand in a moment... Here's the deal. You're going to start a business or expand the one you've got now. It doesn't really matter what you do or what you're going to do. I'll partner with you no matter what business you're in – as long as it's legal. But I can't give you any capital – you have to come up with that on your own. I won't give you any labor – that's definitely up to you. What I will do, however, is demand you follow all sorts of rules about what products and services you can offer, how much (and how often) you pay your employees, and where and when you're allowed to operate your business. That's my role in the affair: to tell you what to do. Now in return for my rules, I'm going to take roughly half of whatever you make in the business each year. Half seems fair, doesn't it? I think so. Of course, that's half of your profits.

Eco-terrorists: Ready to Kill for Their Cause?
Excerpt: Bond is a member of an extremist group called the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). They are allied with a similar organization called the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). These groups were somewhat in the news a few years ago, but faded off the radar when it became apparent that public sympathies were rather with the business owners whose livelihoods were destroyed and workers who were injured — not the radicals who saw no moral dilemma in spiking trees or torching housing developments. So far, law enforcement has not focused heavily on organizations like the ALF or the ELF for a couple of reasons. First, because they’re hard to catch. They use an operational model called “leaderless resistance” in which small cells or individual operatives function underground without a command structure. They are in turn given some cover guidance by above-ground political organizations which are very careful not to do anything illegal. They also tend to get cover from a sympathetic media which, when they do report on it, will tend to decry the action and then proceed to talk about the horrors of animal testing. (For whatever it's worth, only the administration and media attitude toward this is news; the problem has been around a long time. One of Tom Clancy's novels (Rainbow 6) used eco-terrorism as its driving plot in 1998. People who are more ready to identify with animals they've never met (I'll grant a possible exception for pets) than fellow humans are traitors to their entire species. And should be dealt with as such. Ron P.)

Ten Fallacies About Web Privacy
Excerpt: Privacy on the Web is a constant issue for public discussion—and Congress is always considering more regulations on the use of information about people's habits, interests or preferences on the Internet. Unfortunately, these discussions lead to many misconceptions. Here are 10 of the most important: 1) Privacy is free. Many privacy advocates believe it is a free lunch—that is, consumers can obtain more privacy without giving up anything. Not so. There is a strong trade-off between privacy and information: The more privacy consumers have, the less information is available for use in the economy. Since information helps markets work better, the cost of privacy is less efficient markets. 2) If there are costs of privacy, they are borne by companies. Many who do admit that privacy regulations restricting the use of information about consumers have costs believe they are born entirely by firms. Yet consumers get tremendous benefits from the use of information. Think of all the free stuff on the Web: newspapers, search engines, stock prices, sports scores, maps and much more. Google alone lists more than 50 free services—all ultimately funded by targeted advertising based on the use of information. If revenues from advertising are reduced or if costs increase, then fewer such services will be provided.

Protest at military funeral ignites a test of free speech
Excerpt: Albert Snyder tears up, then turns angry as he recalls burying his Marine son while members of the anti-gay fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church picketed nearby. "I can remember being presented the flag at the graveyard. I can remember saluting the coffin," Snyder says of the unusually balmy day in March 2006 when the family memorialized Matthew, a lance corporal killed in Iraq. Yet, Snyder says, he can't separate such moments from the memory that his only son's funeral was picketed by fundamentalist pastor Fred Phelps and his followers with an inflammatory message that had nothing to do with Matthew. Disconnecting the death of his 20-year-old son from his reaction to the protests "became very difficult." Snyder, who sued Phelps for his distress, says he feels like he has been stabbed, and the wound will not heal. The case has grown beyond a single clash between a devastated father and an attention-seeking, fire-and-brimstone group into a major test of speech rights and of safeguards for the sanctity of military funerals. The Supreme Court will hear the case Oct. 6, a crucial First Amendment challenge against the poignant backdrop of war deaths, family suffering and the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve — as long as their sexual orientation remains secret. (I am about as fervent a defender of Free Speech as anyone. You can say whatever you want, publicly, whenever you want. But the deliberate staging of your speech to disrupt a private ceremony and automatically inflict hurt upon the people taking part in it, goes well beyond simple free speech in my estimation. The intent to use someone else's private ceremony to promulgate your political or religious extremism at a cost of deep pain and suffering of those who attend the ceremony expecting privacy means you're not just exercising free speech, and you are fully responsible for the pain & suffering you cause. Let us all pray that the Supreme Court will for once make the right decision. --Del)

O's terror outrage
Excerpt: Americans are learning there's one minority group President Obama is never afraid to offend: families of victims of Islamist terror. First, Attorney General Eric Holder wanted to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attack, in lower Manhattan -- which nearly everyone, even Mayor Bloomberg (eventually), realized would be a standing insult to the memory of KSM's victims. Then came Obama's "I was for it before I was against it" stance on the Ground Zero mosque -- another slap at 9/11 victims' families. Now, last Friday, we learned that "no charges are either pending or contemplated" against one of the deadliest and most dangerous al Qaeda operatives, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, mastermind of the October 12, 2000, bombing of USS Cole that killed 17 sailors and officers and wounded dozens more.

How Sharron Angle can (still) win
Excerpt: There's little doubt that former Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle has stumbled -- badly and repeatedly -- since winning the GOP nomination on June 8. And, there's also no debate that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D) campaign against Angle has been flawless in its execution -- using Angle's many past misstatements to paint her as an extremist who is out of touch with average Nevadans. But -- and in politics there is almost always a "but" -- a recent independent poll in the race showed Reid at 45 percent to Angle's 44 percent -- a statistical dead heat that suggests that the Republican remains viable and could well even win this fall. (If Reid wins, and I hope he doesn’t, he should send the Tea Party a thank you note, for giving him Angle. ~Bob)

USS Stethem Holds Honorary Master Chief Frocking For Namesake
Excerpt: USS Stethem (DDG 63) honored the ship's namesake with a posthumous frocking ceremony Aug. 24. Steelworker (SW/DV) 2nd Class Robert Dean Stethem was frocked to the honorary rank of master chief petty officer, 25 years after he was killed during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in June 1985. Stethem was singled out by Lebanese hijackers because of his military status and was badly beaten and ultimately murdered after their demands were not met. Throughout his ordeal Stethem did not yield. Instead, he acted with fortitude and courage and helped his fellow passengers to endure by his example. "The idea is simple," said Cmdr. Hank Adams, USS Stethem commanding officer. "If 'Robbie' had lived and stayed in the Navy, surely 25 years later, he would have risen through the ranks to become a master chief." (Unfortunately, he ran into adherents of the Religion of Peace, and was murdered. ~Bob)

From the Turkish flotilla to Israel
Excerpt: Erdinç Tekir, IHH operative wounded aboard the Mavi Marmara, participated in the 1996 terrorist attack on the Russian ferry Avrasya to bargain for the release Chechens from Russian prisons. Information indicates a past connection between IHH, and global jihad and Islamist terrorist networks, including Chechen Islamist separatists.

Socialism is like a dream. Sooner or later you wake up to reality. - Winston Churchill

Study: Heavy Boozers Outlive Abstainers
Who says the news is all bad? Excerpt: The new paper in "Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research" was picked up by Time, which earlier had another surprising finding about teetotalers: They tend to be more depressed than drinkers.

The items below were scheduled for last Thursday, but I was called away and unable to post them.

NY Rep. Rangel knocks Obama for 'dignity' remark
They both confuse pomposity with dignity. ~Bob. Excerpt: New York Rep. Charles Rangel has shot back at President Barack Obama's recent comment that he "end his career with dignity." Speaking at a candidate's forum Monday night in New York City, Rangel said the president hasn't "been around long enough to determine what my dignity is." The 80-year-old congressman said it was more likely he would protect Obama's dignity over the next two years. A House ethics panel has accused the 20-term Democrat from Harlem of ethics violation charges. Rangel has vowed to fight the charges and is refusing to resign. He says he is focusing on his re-election.

Justice Dept. Argued in Favor of Using Race As a Relevant Factor
Excerpt: In at least three court cases, President Obama’s Justice Department has argued in favor of federal law enforcement officers using race as a factor in determining whether to stop someone for a suspected immigration violation. It has done so despite the fact that the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report that they do not engage in “racial profiling.” The Justice Department’s legal arguments in defense of federal law enforcement officers using race as one factor among others in making immigration stops are based on the 1975 Supreme Court decision, U.S. v. Brignoni-Ponce. In that case, the court held 9-0 that an officer making an immigration stop must be able to cite “specific articulable facts” that “reasonably warrant suspicion” that illegal aliens are present. (...) “Except at the border and its functional equivalents, officers on roving patrol may stop vehicles only if they are aware of specific articulable facts, together with rational inferences from those facts, that reasonably warrant suspicion that the vehicles contain aliens who may be illegally in the country,” the court ruled in Brignoni-Ponce. The Court said law enforcement officers could not stop a car merely because the occupants appeared to be of Mexican descent, but that they could consider such an appearance as one factor in making a determination that there was “reasonable suspicion” that illegal aliens were present. (I guess race can only be used as a factor when Holder approves of it. –Ron P. Maybe this was how they nailed Waters and Rangel? ~Bob)

Why Do Feminists Attack Sarah and Not Sharia?
Excerpt: Given Islam’s enslavement of women and the Sharia erection of the Cordoba Initiative’s chief con man, Abdul Rauf, you’d think N.O.W. and their ilk would now be raising more Cain about this Ground Zero Mosque than they are about Sarah Palin. Why should one think this? Well, it’s principally because Sharia kind of sha-whizzes on hard-won women’s rights, that’s sha-why. Duh. Yet we’re not hearing a whole heck of a lot from the fiery feminists regarding this Ground Zero affront and what it could entail for the girls among us. Yep, we’re hearing crickets from the virulent vixens of the lovely Left who vie for women’s rights. And Hollywood, where are the bra burners of Tinseltown? I figured they’d be on this topic of Muslim mama oppression like Clinton on a chunky intern, but alas … nada. Why the silence, pussycats? Does it not jive with your agenda? Y’know, the fact that some rapscallion like Rauf can actually table support for Sharia law and then go balls-to-the-wall with building a Mosque within spitting distance from where we were attacked on 9/11, and then you—the supposed champions of chicks everywhere—do not go Twisted Sister over this bloody BS is both odd and revealing.

Andy McCarthy: Inventing Moderate Islam
Excerpt: Writing in the National Review Online this morning, Andrew C. McCarthy offers that moderate Islam can’t be invented “without confronting mainstream Islam and its sharia agenda.” In other words, moderate Islam is a fiction created by Islamists and echoed by elitists, drones, and those hoping beyond reason that such a thing exists: The sad fact, the fact no one wants to deal with but which the Ground Zero mosque debate has forced to the fore, is that Qaradawi is a moderate. So is Feisal Rauf, who endorses the Qaradawi position — the mainstream Islamic position — that sharia is a nonnegotiable requirement. Rauf wins the coveted “moderate” designation because he strains, at least when speaking for Western consumption, to paper over the incompatibility between sharia societies and Western societies.
Qaradawi and Rauf are “moderates” because we’ve abandoned reason. Our opinion elites are happy to paper over the gulf between “reformist” Islam and the “reformist” approval of mass-murder attacks. That’s why it matters not a whit to them that Imam Rauf refuses to renounce Hamas: If you’re going to give a pass to Qaradawi, the guy who actively promotes Hamas terrorists, how can you complain about a guy who merely refuses to condemn the terrorists?

The 'end of the beginning' on Shariah?
Excerpt: As I looked out at the thousands of people assembled near Ground Zero on Sunday to oppose the construction of a megamosque there, I was reminded of Winston Churchill's famous line that enspirited Britain at the first sign the tide was turning in World War II: "Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." To be sure, the rally held two blocks from the World Trade Center was not a decisive defeat of the enemy like that dealt by the storied British "Desert Rats" to Hitler's Afrika Korps in November 1942. But there was something pivotal about the fact that throngs of ordinary Americans - many of them family or friends of those who died on 9/11 - had come together to stand for hours in an intermittent rain not just to contest the construction of a megamosque at a wholly inappropriate location, but in informed opposition to the impetus behind that mosque: shariah.

How Lisa Murkowski (might have) lost
Excerpt: The stunning news that developed over night in Alaska -- with 98 percent of precincts reporting, attorney Joe Miller (R) leads Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) 51 percent to 49 percent -- reveals the depth of anti-incumbent sentiment in the country, the power of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (and the tea party movement) and the perils of prognostication in low turnout intraparty fights. First, the numbers. With 429 of 438 precincts reporting, Miller stands at 45,909 votes while Murkowski has 43,949 votes. According to the Alaska Division of Elections, more than 16,000 absentee ballots were requested and fewer than half (7,600) had been returned as of Monday night. Absentees won't start to be counted for another six days and there are clearly enough outstanding votes for Murkowski to stage a comeback. If she was to lose, however, Murkowski would be the third Senator to fall in a party re-nomination contest this year. How did we get here?

Alan West new TV Ad available here

Sick of Lawsuits
Appears to be a new group. Excerpt from their e-mail: Ten percent of every dollar spent on health care can be attributed to the costs of liability and defensive medicine and yet, Congress is too afraid of personal injury lawyers to include meaningful medical malpractice reform in healthcare reform. Unemployment is soaring while small businesses pay over $105 billion each year to cover the cost of America's tort system -- money that could be used to hire additional workers. America needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.

Recovery in danger as firms, homebuyers cut back
The “Obama Recovery” in full swing. Time to blame Bush again. ~Bob. Excerpt: The economic recovery appears to be stalling as companies cut back last month on their investments in equipment and machines and Americans bought new homes at the weakest pace in decades. Overall orders for big-ticket manufactured goods increased 0.3 percent in July, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. But that was only because of a 76 percent jump in demand for commercial aircraft. Taking out the volatile transportation category, orders for durable goods fell at the steepest rate since January. And business orders for capital goods took their sharpest drop since January 2009, when the economy was stuck in the deepest recession in decades.
Separately, Commerce said new home sales fell 12.4 percent in July from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 276,600. That was the slowest pace on records dating back to 1963. Collectively, the past three months have been the worst on record for new home sales. The weak sales mean fewer jobs in the construction industry, which normally powers economic recoveries. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The two reports are likely to stoke fears that the economy is on the verge of slipping back into a recession. They follow Tuesday's report that showed sales of previously owned homes fell last month to the lowest level in decades. Unemployment remains near double digits and job growth in the private sector is slowing.

Venezuela, More Deadly Than Iraq, Wonders Why
Excerpt: Some here joke that they might be safer if they lived in Baghdad. The numbers bear them out. In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year, the number of murders climbed above 16,000. Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives. Venezuelans have absorbed such grim statistics for years. Those with means have hidden their homes behind walls and hired foreign security experts to advise them on how to avoid kidnappings and killings. And rich and poor alike have resigned themselves to living with a murder rate that the opposition says remains low on the list of the government’s priorities. Then a front-page photograph in a leading independent newspaper — and the government’s reaction — shocked the nation, and rekindled public debate over violent crime. The photo in the paper, El Nacional, is unquestionably gory. It shows a dozen homicide victims strewn about the city’s largest morgue, just a sample of an unusually anarchic two-day stretch in this already perilous place. While many Venezuelans saw the picture as a sober reminder of their vulnerability and a chance to effect change, the government took a different stand. A court ordered the paper to stop publishing images of violence, as if that would quiet growing questions about why the government — despite proclaiming a revolution that heralds socialist values — has been unable to close the dangerous gap between rich and poor and make the country’s streets safer. (The violence in Hispanic countries is not the result of race but culture. Graft a culture where corruption makes Chicago look like a model of probity on to a socialist thugocracy and this is the result. But our time is coming as the inner city thug culture is growing stronger in the US. ~Bob)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Political Digest August 30, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.
How 'Brilliant' Can President Obama Be?
Excerpt: Every person, newscaster and commentator always prefaces any, even the mildest criticism, of President Obama's policies with some statement about how dazzlingly brilliant the man is. Liberals, conservatives, independents — it never changes. Why is this? And most important of all, is it true? What and where is the proof that Obama is such a sharp fellow? The recorded evidence is unavailable since his academic records, and test scores from three universities are sealed at his demand. Sure, he graduated from Harvard, but so did George Bush, who earned an MBA but is still pilloried by some as dumber than dirt. We shall have to examine Obama's performance and make our own assumptions based on observations. Obama selected advisers and Cabinet heads who have basically no experience in the private sector. He relies heavily on them to tell him what to do about the sick economy. Their knee-jerk responses are Keynesian (borrow and spend), based on a dubious theory popular 70 years ago, and proved unworkable in the past. They sold us the stimulus ("porkulus") package of spending. The result? Rising unemployment and falling home sales prove that "recovery summer" is going down the tube without touching the sides. The president retains his economic Rasputins. Is loyalty to failure a sign of a great mind?

Arson Suspected in Tennessee Islamic Center Fire
Not only wrong, if arson, but aids the left in portraying them as victims of America. Excerpt: A fire early Saturday morning at the construction site of a new Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Officials have said that the incident is not yet being ruled arson. Investigators are "in the process of an arson investigation," according to Eric Kehn of Nashville ATF.

Islam outlaws all the things that allow Bloomberg to tolerate it
Excerpt: "We are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week. "There is nowhere in the five boroughs that is off limits to any religion." Our founding documents guarantee that - and not just in the five boroughs. But the unprecedented furor over plans for a mosque complex at ground zero tells us there is a coalescing sense that Islam is more than a "mere" religion as non-Muslims conceive of "religion." It is becoming clear to people, despite the gag of political correctness, that there's a reason "Islam" means "submission." Islam not only seeks to order the spiritual realm inhabited by a Muslim and Allah, it lays out a doctrine to control every believer's behavior (down to the most intimate bodily functions) as well as the public life of the collective. Doctrinally, Islam is thus "doubly totalitarian," in the words of G.H. Bousquet, a leading scholar of Islamic law, in accordance with the body of law known as Shariah. Under Shariah, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech are outlawed with extreme sanction (those who leave Islam fear death to this day), while non-Muslims and women exist as legal inferiors to the Muslim man. Meanwhile, jihad -- holy war to extend Islamic rule -- is a sacred command. And I have the books that prove it. In other words, this isn't Islam because I say so, but because its sacred, authoritative, mainstream, non-hijacked, untwisted texts say so. It is the religious and political and legal ideology that inspired the al Qaeda killers on 9/11, and it is the religious and political and legal ideology that inspires the mosque complex at ground zero.

El-Gamal Owes NYC $224K in Back Taxes
Well, no wonder the Obama administration loves them! Birds of a feather. ~Bob. Excerpt: The mosque developers are tax deadbeats. Sharif El-Gamal, the leading organizer behind the mosque and community center near Ground Zero, owes $224,270.77 in back property tax on the site, city records show. El-Gamal’s company, 45 Park Place Partners, failed to pay its half-yearly bills in January and July, according to the city Finance Department. Imagine being able to skip paying tax for a year. And then having the city try to help you finance your next purchase.

Mosques being funded by the US Taxpayers?
See, it’s separation of CHUCH and state. Nothing said about mosques.

Ground Zero Mosque Opposition: 'You Might Be a Bigot If…'
Excerpt: Just before London morphed into Londonistan and became the hotbed for international terrorism, the Muslims in the UK cowed the Brits into submission by calling them “bigots” who were being “intolerant” of their “Religion of Peace.” If you don’t believe me, check out Melanie Phillips’ heavily footnoted book, Londonistan, which spells out with Windex-like clarity how our cousins across the pond fell under the PC spell, got neutered and now have a Muslim mess on their hands. This book will wake you the heck up regarding what’s going on right now in NYC … I ga-ron-tee! Allow me to continue. Islam, surfing pluralism’s chipper wave of “tolerance” in the former Great Britain, effectively bullied the Brits into submission simply by calling them names. Unbelievable.

Carla Bruni branded 'prostitute' by Iran after she campaigns for woman threatened with stoning
Excerpt: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has been branded a ‘prostitute’ by Iran after she publicly attacked the country for threatening to stone a woman to death. France’s First Lady is part of a campaign to save the life of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two. She is accused of cheating on her husband and then helping to kill him, and is now facing capital punishment for her crimes.

Europe’s Mosque wars
Excerpt: As Americans debate the appropriateness of building a Muslim mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, similar discussions have been taking place in towns and cities across Europe, where the spread of Islam is far more advanced than it is in the United States. Although Muslims and their supporters in Europe usually frame the issue of mosque construction within the context of granting religious freedom to minorities, most, if not all, of the more controversial European mosque projects are motivated by politics at least as much as by religion.
There currently are an estimated 6,000 mosques in Europe. Many of them are housed in makeshift structures such as small shops, basements, offices, garages and rented rooms. But as the Muslim population in Europe increases by more than one million people per year, Muslims across the continent are becoming increasingly more assertive in their demands to build high-profile mosques that clearly are meant to challenge the European status quo.
Critics say the construction of mosques is part of a strategy for the Islamization of Europe. They point to comments by Muslim leaders like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has bragged: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Erdogan has also told Turkish immigrants in Germany that "assimilation is a crime against humanity."

Pakistani Taliban hint at attacks on aid workers
Allah (the compassionate, the merciful) willing. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Taliban hinted Thursday they may launch attacks against foreigners helping Pakistan respond to the worst floods in the country's history, saying their presence was "unacceptable." The U.N. said it would not be deterred by violent threats. The militant group has attacked aid workers in the country before, and an outbreak of violence could complicate a relief effort that has already struggled to reach the 8 million people who are in need of emergency assistance. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq claimed the U.S. and other countries that have pledged support are not really focused on providing aid to flood victims but had other motives he did not specify.

Britain faces new terror wave
Excerpt: Michael Clarke, a former government adviser and the head of the Royal United Services Institute, says he believes the security services could struggle to cope with a new generation of extremists seeking to carry out "lone wolf" attacks. In a report published today, Prof Clarke says that, over the next five to 10 years, about 800 prisoners – in jail for non-terrorism offences – are due to be released on to the streets having been radicalised in jail. They will be joined by convicted terrorists serving short sentences who, once freed, are likely to be just as committed to the cause of jihad as before they were jailed, the report claims. Prof Clarke, who advised Gordon Brown as a member of the National Security Forum and is a visiting professor at King's College London, warns that this "new wave" will pose a significant challenge to the security services responsible for identifying and monitoring them. While previous al-Qaeda tactics involved so-called "spectacular" attacks, the report warns that the terrorist group's leaders, such as Yemeni preacher and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, are encouraging individuals to launch less sophisticated but equally deadly attacks on crowded places. Their targets have also changed from concentrating on aircraft to including attacks on trains, hotels and sporting events. The report will serve as a stark reminder to the Government and public that the threat from Islamist terrorism remains severe, even though there has not been a fatal attack on British soil since 2005.

Why can't Barack Obama tell the world about American tolerance?
Good commentary from Britain. ~Bob. Excerpt: It took a Manhattan taxi driver called Ahmed Sharif to speak out for America, which is being vilified as bigoted and Islamophobic because of the controversy generated by opposition to the so-called "Ground Zero mosque". The United States was his dream country, he enthused, and he loved New York City. "I feel like I belong here. This is the city actually [for] all colours, races, religion, everyone. We live here side by side peacefully." Which was a pretty noble sentiment coming from a man whose throat had been slashed by a drunken, deranged passenger who had inquired whether he was a Muslim before pulling out a knife and shouting "Peace be upon you" in Arabic. As the whole world knows, there is a furore raging over the proposed building of a 15-storey Islamic community centre, containing a mosque, two blocks from Ground Zero, site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda. America's liberal elites have been falling over themselves to denounce their country and fellow citizens as anti-Muslim xenophobes who don't understand that it was not all followers of Islam who were responsible for the atrocities of 2001. Certainly, some Americans opposed to what is now known as the Park51centre (its previous name of Cordoba centre, a reference to a mosque built in Spain on the site of a Christian church to symbolise a Muslim victory, did not quite strike the right public relations note) are motivated by bigotry. But it was the centre's Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf himself who linked its purpose to its proximity to the Ground Zero site. It is entirely valid to question whether this is the right approach to building interfaith bridges. Rauf, who once described the US policies as "an accessory to the crime" of 9/11, stated in Bahrain last week that all the "attention is a sign of the success of our efforts" – an utterance that shows he is stupid, mischievous or worse. Even if the aim of building the centre there was to encourage religious understanding, that is clearly no longer a possible outcome. So what kind of success was Rauf referring to? To want to debate such matters, however, is judged as beyond the pale. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York tried to shut down discussion by saying that opponents of Rauf's initiative "ought to be ashamed of themselves". Presumably, that includes Bangladeshi-born Sharif, who doesn't support the Park51 centre.

Administration halts prosecution of alleged USS Cole bomber
Excerpt: In a filing this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department said that "no charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future." The statement, tucked into a motion to dismiss a petition by Nashiri's attorneys, suggests that the prospect of further military trials for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has all but ground to a halt, much as the administration's plan to try the accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in federal court has stalled. Only two cases are moving forward at Guantanamo Bay, and both were sworn and referred for trial by the time Obama took office. In January 2009, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates directed the Convening Authority for Military Commissions to stop referring cases for trial, an order that 20 months later has not been rescinded. Military officials said a team of prosecutors in the Nashiri case has been ready go to trial for some time. And several months ago, military officials seemed confident that Nashiri would be arraigned this summer. "It's politics at this point," said one military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy. He said he thinks the administration does not want to proceed against a high-value detainee without some prospect of civilian trials for other major figures at Guantanamo Bay. A White House official disputed that. "We are confident that the reformed military commissions are a lawful, fair and effective prosecutorial forum and that the Department of Defense will handle the referrals in an appropriate manner consistent with the interests of justice," said the official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. (The Administration can't have it both ways on Gitmo detainee legal issues. Either this turkey has the same legal rights as we do or he doesn't. Pick your laws, pick your place, and get it done. He's been "in custody" since November, 2002. If he's found guilty in a civilian court at this point, a good lawyer will get him off for lack of a speedy trial. A cynic might say perhaps that's the point. Ron P. Anyone who isn’t a cynic isn’t paying attention. ~Bob)

Norway ‘bomb plot’ underscores al-Qaida pitfalls
Intercepted their e-mail? What about their civil liberties to plot to kill infidels? An outrage! ~Bob. Excerpt: When police arrested a suspected al-Qaida cell in Norway last month they turned up the makings of a bomb lab tucked away in a nondescript Oslo apartment building. An Associated Press investigation shows that authorities learned early on about the alleged cell by intercepting e-mails from an al-Qaida operative in Pakistan and — thanks to those early warnings — were able to secretly replace a key bomb-making ingredient with a harmless liquid when one of the suspects ordered it at an Oslo pharmacy. Officials say the suspected plot against this quiet Nordic country was one of three planned attacks on the West hatched in the rugged mountains of northwest Pakistan by some of al-Qaida’s most senior leaders. The other plots targeted the bustling New York subway and a shopping mall in Manchester, England.

Using our brains on the refugee problem
The immigration problem….in Canada. ~Bob. Excerpt: When it comes to the recent controversy of the 492 Tamil migrants who arrived by ship in Canada with the hopes of claiming political asylum here, opinion is very divided. According to a new survey released by Angus Reid, 63% of Canadians feel the ship should have been prevented from landing in British Columbia, and a great deal of those polled expressed skepticism that the Tamils aboard were fleeing any danger at all. Even more respondents, 83%, said they felt that the Tamils are jumping the proper immigration queue, and that they should be forced to apply through the same channels as any other immigrant. Perhaps most frustrating has been the legal explanations of how Canada is obligated under international treaties to accept refugees who arrive from conflict zones, as well as the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights to non-Canadians once they step on our soil. Frustrating, because it would appear that our best intentions have paved a very expensive road to a very hot place. On the one side you have people expressing skepticism that these Tamils are fleeing immediate strife, or that there weren’t other countries to which they could have gone. Canada is a mighty long way from Sri Lanka, and there is a large expatriate Tamil community located in nearby India. But it must be acknowledged at some point that precedent has precipitated this latest perforation of our border. Toronto has the largest expatriate Tamil community in the world, while Canada has the highest acceptance rate of asylum claims from Tamils as well — about 75%, according to former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Martin Collacott. If we look at the relative ease with which refugees have already navigated their way into political asylum, we should not be blaming the Tamil people for the assumption that Canada is an open-border country. If they paid their way to come to Canada in good faith, we should be directing our anger at the smugglers. It doesn’t seem perspicuous to castigate the refugees themselves, though our patience may have been worn thin by such a voluminous arrival of needy people.

Think the economy is bad? Worse is coming
Economic prospects continue to grow gloomier as the Commerce Department on Friday revised the second-quarter growth rate substantially downward from the initial estimate of 2.4 percent to a mere 1.6 percent. Just to stay on an even keel in terms of job creation, the growth rate needs to be at least 3 percent. It has averaged only 2.9 percent for the past four quarters. Virtually every key economic indicator is pointing in either the wrong direction or is barely leaning to the positive side. Unemployment remains officially at 9.5 percent and is likely to head upward in the near future. If you are counting people who are either underemployed or have given up looking, the unemployment number nears a Great Depression level of 20 percent. The really bad news, however, is that things are going to get worse before they get better unless President Obama and the Democratic Congress reverse course and abandon their plan to impose a huge tax increase on Jan. 1, 2011. That's the day the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire. Tax rates on all five income brackets, not just those paid by "the rich," will increase by 2 to 4 percentage points, thereby blowing a $921 billion hole in the nation's ailing economy. Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have sent federal spending skyrocketing, from 20 percent of the gross domestic product to 25 percent. The coming tax increase will drive the cost of government even further into the stratosphere, which will deprive the private sector of nearly a trillion dollars that could have gone to job creation.

Obama, Democrats got 88 percent of 2008 contributions by TV network execs, writers, reporters
Excerpt: Senior executives, on-air personalities, producers, reporters, editors, writers and other self-identifying employees of ABC, CBS and NBC contributed more than $1 million to Democratic candidates and campaign committees in 2008, according to an analysis by The Examiner of data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The Democratic total of $1,020,816 was given by 1,160 employees of the three major broadcast television networks, with an average contribution of $880. By contrast, only 193 of the employees contributed to Republican candidates and campaign committees, for a total of $142,863. The average Republican contribution was $744. (I would have guessed 95%. The amazing thing is that despite almost unitary control of the mainstream media and the universities, where opposing thought is ignored or disparaged, 40% of Americans say they are conservative, only 20% say liberal. Imagine what it would be if 50% of reporters and professors were conservative and things were “fair and balanced”? ~Bob).

Debt, Depression, Default. America is in Deep Trouble
Excerpt: Consumers are spending less. Small retailers are closing shop -- even cable television subscriptions are seeing a loss in revenue. Mike Shedlock of globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com cites reports by Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica, Mercedes Cardon of Finance Daily, and Jon Chavez of the Toledo Blade, highlighting America's economic woes with the following:

Fix the IPCC process
Excerpt: After the Climategate emails scandal of last winter, and discoveries of some embarrassing errors in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, asked the Inter-Academy Council (IAC) to review IPCC procedures. The IAC is a little-known branch of the Inter-Academy Panel, itself a little-known committee that connects national academic societies. It was a safe choice for Pachauri. The last IAC report was a glowing tribute to alternative energy schemes, coauthored by Pachauri himself, along with current Obama administration appointee Stephen Chu and a group of others. So I do not expect much independence of mind or hard-headed objectivity from the IAC. But with the report due out on Aug. 30, I guess we shall soon see. I was one of hundreds of people asked to respond to a set of inquiry questions. The questions, and my replies, are available on my Web page (rossmckitrick.weebly.com). Here is a summary of some of my input. IPCC policies, such as the requirement for an “objective, open and transparent” review process, sound impressive, but my experience is that the written policies are not always followed, and there do not appear to be any consequences when they are breached. For example, one rule states: “Review Editors will need to ensure that where significant differences of opinion on scientific issues remain, such differences are described in an annex to the Report.” Yet no such annexes have been produced. I was involved in numerous areas where there were significant differences of opinion on scientific issues, such as flaws in surface temperature data, improper estimation of trend uncertainties and methodological flaws in paleoclimate research. None of these differences were resolved during the review process, yet no annexes were ever published, creating a false impression of consensus. (In the climategate emails, there are two persons referred to as "M & M." Steve MacIntire of British Columbia was mentioned in TOJ when readers of his blog voluntarily put up enough money (in about 2 hours) for him to attend a debate hosted by The Guardian newspaper in the UK a few months ago. The other "M" is Ross McKitrick, a professor at Guelf University in Ontario, Canada. Between the two Ms, they have been major players in upsetting the Anthropogenic Global Warming parade because of its poor science. In this piece, McKitrick gives specific advice on how to fix the problems with the IPCC process. Ron P.)

The Fragility of Statist Societies
Excerpt: A variety of progressives claim that utilitarian arguments show it’s practical to have the state control large swaths of citizens’ lives. Ethical arguments aside, that view is belied by a large body of evidence. The recent Russian drought and fires required them to slash exports by 30 percent. China’s widely admired infrastructure push has produced widespread dislocations from floods and man-made landslides. Haiti’s earthquake that killed over 200,000 will have them reeling for years, even with billions in international aid. The point here is not simply that natural disasters cause major damage. It’s that the recovery time and effort in statist societies is typically longer, more painful, and causes major unnecessary social disruptions. When there’s little freedom or incentive for private individuals to profit from cleaning up a mess, it has to be organized and paid for by the state. But the state always has lots of other financial commitments and priorities, and few reserves. With so many hungering to get a sliver of the spoils and so many expansionist plans always on tap, statist regimes are perpetually short of resources. By contrast, countries with a much larger ratio of private enterprise to government are better equipped to endure economic shocks without producing national crises. (And this is just one of many pleasant unintended consequences of capitalism. Ron P.)

Suspect arrested in officer's shooting
Excerpt: As a Fremont police officer clung to life Saturday, the suspect in his shooting was captured in San Diego just one block away from the U.S.-Mexico border by a sharp-eyed police officer. Andrew Barrientos shot at two Fremont officers as they tried to arrest him Friday at his east Oakland home on domestic violence charges, police said. Barrientos then shot at the driver of a vehicle he unsuccessfully tried to carjack before fleeing in another vehicle taken at gunpoint, police added. Despite the barrage, the bullets struck only one man, Officer Todd Young, 39, a married father of two who remained in critical but stable condition Saturday following surgery at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

EPA Surrenders to NRA on Gun Control Issue
Some good news. Excerpt: In a swift and unexpected decision, the Environmental Protection Agency today rejected a petition from environmental groups to ban the use of lead in bullets and shotgun shells, claiming it doesn't have jurisdiction to weigh on the controversial Second Amendment issue. The decision came just hours after the Drudge Report posted stories from Washington Whispers and the Weekly Standard about how gun groups were fighting the lead bullet ban. The EPA had planned to solicit public responses to the petition for two months, but this afternoon issued a statement rejecting a 100-page request from the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, and three other groups for a ban on lead bullets, shot, and fishing sinkers. The agency is still considering what to do about sinkers. (The innocent optimist would say "They must have gotten enough negative comments to discourage them." The hardened cynic would reply "They know they'll have their hands full to overflowing with the battle over CO2; wait 5 years, because this issue won't go away for the animal-rights groups." Ron P.)

Court rejects Swedish orgasm church
Excerpt: A congregation in southern Sweden that worships the sexual orgasm has lost its legal fight to become an officially registered faith community. Sweden's Supreme Administrative Court (Regeringsratten) said it would not hear the appeal by the Madonna of the Orgasm church in Lovestad, ruling there were no errors in the Court of Appeals decision rejecting the church's application, The Local reported. (Remember back in 1975 or 6 when "someone" got me ordained and I tried to start the First Church of Inside Straights? Nancy had a fit and the tax office said "no" very firmly. Maybe if I had tried this instead.... Ron P. I can think of worse “religious” organizations to live close to. ~Bob)

Sources of American Anger
Excerpt: A culpable America? Finally, the public has added up the apology tours, the bowing, and the constant emphasis on race, class, and gender crimes, and concluded that this administration sees America, past and present, as the story of a culpable majority denying noble minorities their rights — period. In addition, Obama and his crew see America in isolation, without comparison to the wretchedness that exists in so much of the world outside our borders. So a logical disconnect is never quite explained. If America is so xenophobic and culpable, why would millions of Mexicans or Middle Eastern Muslims wish to immigrate here — and what exactly is America doing to attract them that their own countries are not? If Michelle Obama felt that she could not be proud of America before Barack Obama’s accession, was it the free-market system that both provoked her ire and created the capital for her to jet to Marbella. In other words, with the race/class/gender critique of the Obamians comes very little appreciation of the bounty, freedom, and affluence that they so eagerly embrace. Surely someone in the past — perhaps even white males — must have been doing something right for America to evolve into a place that our present-day critics apparently enjoy.

Urine-powered fuel cells to offer pee power to people
Excerpt: This could literally be called pee power to the people-researchers have figured out a way to make the world's first urine-powered fuel cells. Chemistry postdocs Shanwen Tao and Rong Lan at Heriot-Watt University's School of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Edinburgh are turning pee into electricity and clean water with a prototype fuel cell system. I had heard about pee-power for robots, but not pee-power for everyone. While fuel cells usually rely on flammable hydrogen gas or toxic methanol to generate electricity, Tao and Lan's cheaper prototype relies instead on urea, an organic chemical compound produced as waste when the body metabolizes protein. Urea, also called "carbamide," has several advantages as a potential fuel source-it's abundant, non-toxic, relatively straightforward to transport and rich in nitrogen, reports Discovery News. (More odd science news. At first, I thought this was a joke, but not even Discovery Magazine would sink that low. Maybe this is the power supply to start a few-weeks-ago's methane (from feces) powered car. All those jokes about people peeing in the gas-tank and praying for a miracle might now come true. Ron P.)

A half-dozen Florida congressional races could hold the key to control of Congress
Excerpt: Florida's party primaries last week set the stage for a half-dozen closely contested congressional elections this fall that could help resurgent Republicans regain majority control of Congress. National political analysts foresee a Republican gain of two or three U.S. House seats in Florida. Four Democratic incumbents appear vulnerable: Alan Grayson of Orlando, Suzanne Kosmas of New Smyrna Beach, Allen Boyd of Monticello and Ron Klein of Boca Raton. On the other hand, two open seats vacated by Republicans in South and Central Florida offer opportunities for Democrats. "I expect Republicans to pick up three seats in Florida on their way to the 40 they hope to get nationally," said David Wasserman, who tracks House campaigns for The Cook Political Report, which analyzes elections across the country. "The primaries demonstrated that there is more enthusiasm on the Republican side this year."

Who Owns 8/28?
Excerpt: "Whites don't own Abraham Lincoln and blacks don't own Martin Luther King," says Glenn Beck as he defends his right to rally and restore honor at the same place and on the same date as Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech. That Beck has to say this seems ridiculous in itself, for most of us know that Martin Luther King is an American legend, with cherished monuments and a nationally celebrated holiday honoring his birthday each year. But Beck has to say this because he is white. And sadly, he is addressing the same critics: certain black reverends who never miss an opportunity to exploit race and black history. The Reverend Al Sharpton, the Reverend Walter Fauntroy, and the Reverend Timothy McDonald have been recently quoted in an uproar over Beck's 828 rally this weekend. They are suggesting that Beck is "hijacking" Dr. King's dream. (Only fair. Generally accepted by scholars that “Doctor” King hijacked (plagiarized) his doctoral thesis. ~Bob)

The Myth of Equality
Excerpt: In 21st century America, institutional racism and sexism remain great twin evils to be eradicated on our long journey to the wonderful world where, at last, all are equal.
What are we to make, then, of a profession that rewards workers with fame and fortune, yet discriminates ruthlessly against women; an institution where Hispanics and Asians, 20 percent of the U.S. population, are neither sought after nor widely seen. In this profession, white males, a third of the population, retain a third of the jobs. But black males, 6.5 percent of the U.S. population, have 67 percent of the coveted positions -- 10 times their fair share. We are talking of the NFL.

Polling on the Spill
Excerpt: The oil spill in the Gulf may be mostly out of the headlines now but Louisiana voters aren't getting any less mad at Barack Obama about his handling of it. Only 32% give Obama good marks for his actions in the aftermath of the spill, while 61% disapprove. Louisianans are feeling more and more that George W. Bush's leadership on Katrina was better than Obama's on the spill. 54% think Bush did the superior job of helping the state through a crisis to 33% who pick Obama. That 21 point margin represents a widening since PPP asked the same question in June and found Bush ahead by a 15 point margin. Bush beats Obama 87-2 on that score with Republicans and 42-30 with independents, while Obama has just a 65-24 advantage with Democrats. Louisianans are generally softening with time in their feelings about how Bush handled Katrina. Almost as many, 44%, now approve of his actions on it as the 47% who disapprove. Of course it should be noted that many of the people most negatively impacted by the federal government's handling of Katrina aren't in Louisiana to answer polls about it now. (These numbers should frighten anyone even remotely connected to the White House response to the Oil Spill. Ron P. Like Obama? ~Bob)

Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup
Excerpt: For those concerned about the environmental impact of oil exploration and development, perhaps the biggest news are studies of the impact of the BP spill on the Gulf of Mexico. On August 19, the New York Times reported that a new study by the venerable Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, being published in Science, indicates that the earlier NOAA studies of the disappearance of the oil plume were far too optimistic. According to the Woods Hole study, the oil plume was not breaking down quickly and effects will remain indefinitely. This confirmed suspicions by other groups. On August 24, the New York Times reported a new study by the Energy Biosciences Institute, a partnership led by the University of California Berkeley and the University of Illinois, stated that the oil plume is being depleted quickly by a previously undiscovered microorganism that appears closely related to Oceanospirillales. Readers may recall that TWTW previously reported that the Gulf of Mexico is home to a great number of microorganisms that thrive in cold water (about 5°C) at oil seeps and that these microbes depend upon chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis. The newly discovered microbe appears to be one such creature. Very importantly, it appears that the microbe is anaerobic – it does not consume oxygen. The oxygen levels are remaining high (59% inside the plume as compared with 67% outside the plume). Thus the feared dead zone from oxygen depletion is not occurring. It should be noted that the Energy Biosciences Institute was created by a $500 Million, 10 year grant from BP for which Stephen Chu, now Secretary of Energy, was a grateful recipient. If the research holds, then this is another example that in science, it is the quality of the work, not the [source of the] funding, that is important. (This is from a mildly warmist site, the Science and Environmental Policy Project. 18 months ago, they were far more committed to the warmist cause; now, they have moved toward more objective journalism. Good data is where you find it; you can even get a good idea from a fool IF you can recognize it as a good idea (the fool may not). Ron P.)

72 Massacred Illegals Didn’t Pay Ransom
Excerpt: Their families pleaded with them not to leave, fearful of the growing danger that faces migrants trekking through Mexican territory where brutal drug gangs hold sway.
But the young migrants from across Latin America insisted on going. They met their ends together, among 72 migrants massacred just 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the U.S. border…
The survivor, 18-year-old Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla of Ecuador, said the killers identified themselves as Zetas, a group begun by former Mexican army special forces soldiers and now a lethal drug gang that has taken to extorting migrants…Lala, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the neck and is under heavy guard, told investigators the migrants were intercepted on a highway by five cars, according to his statement that The Associated Press had access to Friday. More than 10 gunmen jumped out and identified themselves as Zetas, Lala said. They tied up the migrants and took them to the ranch, where they demanded the migrants work for the gang. When most refused, they were blindfolded, ordered to lie down and shot… (We can’t have people not paying ransom to drug gangs. It would break down the basis of Mexican Society. ~Bob)

3 Iranian Jews killed in West Hollywood
Excerpt: Authorities searched Friday for clues in the killing of three Iranian-born Jewish men who were shot in a West Hollywood apartment. The victims, including two brothers, were killed shortly after 9 pm Thursday, and their killer or killers got away without anyone seeing them, sheriff's Detective Bill Marsh said. The coroner's office identified the victims as Pirooz Moussazadeh, 27, his brother, Shahriar Moussazadeh, 38, and Bernard Khalili, 27. Residents of the Kings Road Arms apartments building heard what they thought were firecrackers going off. They called the apartment manager, who went to investigate and found the door open and a body inside. Deputies found two more bodies in the apartment. All three men were in different places in the open-plan unit. No weapons were found, and there were no immediate clues as to why the men were targeted, authorities said. At least two of the men lived in the apartment. Marsh said the men likely knew whoever killed them. There was no sign of a struggle, and the door had not been forced open. All three victims were members of the Iranian Jewish community and moved to the US as young children, said Pooya Dayanim, president of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee. "These are three guys who happen to be Persian Jews who happen to have been murdered," Marsh said. The victims were not wealthy, and family members told him they had no criminal pasts, Dayanim said. "The only thing that sticks out is there was nothing significant about them," he said. The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the killings were the second tragedy to hit the Khalili family in less than two years. In 2008, Bernard Khalili's sister, Bianca Khalili, fell to her death from a Century City high-rise. Authorities ruled it a suicide.

Stunning Revelations from Obama, the Lightworker
Excerpt: How long has it been since you’ve heard some starry-eyed Obama worshiper gush on and on about the Lightworker? Or heard suspicious accounts of “leg-tingling” from media folks? Or heard a supposedly intelligent American drone on about Obama as hovering above the rest of us as “sort of God”? Yes, it’s been quite a while since the throngs fainted, fawned, and followed The One. But let’s cut Obama, our benevolent leader, a little slack. (...) Yes, they really are this aloof. Democrats care nothing for the rights of individual citizens, and simply do not grasp how such rights can be respected only by a limited government. They couldn’t care less whether a program will actually work, or if it’s simply an experiment. Heck, they don’t even read the bills they pass. Clearly, the only question liberal Democrats ask is: “can we get away with it?” And for the past 18 months under the Lightworker’s care, the only answer — in complete disregard of public opinion — is a hearty, in-your-face: “yes, we can.”

Michael Berry of Texas Radio
Wow. No slack!

Obama’s Shipwreck
Excerpt: You've got to wonder when White House political guru David Axelrod will look at the churning pools of poll data and, like Chief Brody in "Jaws," say: "We're gonna need a bigger boat." The analogy isn't quite right, because in the movie, the shark ultimately loses. It's hard to imagine a scenario where Barack Obama and Axelrod victoriously paddle away on the flotsam of their own political wreckage. But in one sense, the analogy works just fine: This White House is rudderlessly lost at sea and inadequate to the challenges it faces. At the beginning of the year, retiring seven-term Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.), recounted a conversation he had with the president. Obama's unrelenting push for health-care reform in the face of public opposition reminded Berry of the Clinton-era missteps that led to the Republican rout of the Democrats in 1994. "I began to preach last January that we had already seen this movie and we didn't want to see it again because we know how it comes out," Berry told a newspaper. Or, to quote Brody in "Jaws 2": "But I'm telling you, and I'm telling everybody at this table that that's a shark! And I know what a shark looks like, because I've seen one up close. And you'd better do something about this one, because I don't intend to go through that hell again!" Convinced that his popularity was eternal, Obama responded by saying, yes, but there's a "big difference" between 1994 and 2010, and that big difference is "you've got me." The funny thing is, Obama might have been right. Because things might be much worse for Democrats in 2010 than they were in 1994 -- and the big difference might well be Barack Obama. In fairness, the biggest difference is probably the economy, which in political terms should be fitted for a pine box. Of course, Mr. Credibility, Joe Biden, says it's doing great, sounding a bit like the shopkeeper in the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch who insists the bird's "just resting."

From the Killing Fields to the Tea Party
Excerpt: A Cambodian refugee and self-described Reagan Republican runs for Congress in the Bay State.. Sam Meas isn't your typical congressional candidate. For one thing, the Cambodian refugee doesn't know his birthday. "I tell people I am 38 years old— plus or minus two years." In 1973, Mr. Meas's father was sent to be "re-educated" by the Khmer Rouge and was never heard from again. During the chaos following the regime's collapse in 1979, Mr. Meas was separated from his mother. He never saw her again. Marching night and day toward the Thai border with a cousin, Mr. Meas recalls stepping over corpses and watching bloated bodies float down jungle waterways. After years in a Thai refugee camp, in 1986 Mr. Meas was brought to the United States by the aid organization Catholic Charities. He spent months watching "General Hospital" and "All My Children" to improve his vocabulary. Twenty-five years later—after stints as a shoe-shine boy, a grocery-bagger, and a financial adviser—Mr. Meas is learning the craft of politics. "Health care should not be in the realm of government," he tells me in carefully accented English at a Cambodian restaurant where he is something of a celebrity. America is "on a slow path towards socialism." And "we need to get government out of managing people's lives." Mr. Meas, who describes this country as "heaven on Earth," is running in Massachusetts' fifth district, currently represented by Democrat Niki Tsongas. Of the four Republicans competing to run against her, only Mr. Meas and Jon Golnik have garnered significant media attention. Mr. Golnik, a moderate Republican from Carlisle whose media team includes veterans of Sen. Scott Brown's campaign, is widely expected to prevail in the Sept. 14 primary. Mr. Meas is hobbled by an almost total absence of campaign money, an inexperienced campaign staff, and the difficulty of being a self-described "social conservative" in a liberal state.

A Senator and His 'Disciples'
Excerpt: 'I'd rather lose with Pat Toomey than win with Arlen Specter any day." That's South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint defending his Senate Conservatives Fund, a new PAC that has taken Washington by storm. The fund-raising group has already helped eight underdog Reaganite candidates win Republican Senate primaries this year. In two years, the fund has raised and spent nearly $2 million from nearly 50,000 individual contributors. Mr. DeMint's mission is to bring more Jim DeMints to the Senate—that is, people with an unfailing antagonism to big government. But his string of victories, often against establishment candidates, has many of his Republican colleagues grumbling. They say Mr. DeMint is pushing candidates through the primaries who are too far to the right to take back vulnerable seats from Democrats in November. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott recently spoke for many in the party when he said it didn't need anymore "Jim DeMint disciples." Over the past five years, Mr. DeMint has established himself as the pre-eminent conservative in Congress—he has a near perfect National Taxpayer Union rating—with Tom Coburn of Oklahoma a close second. As we eat lunch at Mr. DeMint's favorite restaurant in his hometown of Greenville, our conversation is often interrupted by well-wishers thrilled to see their senator in person and all with pretty much the same message: "Keep fighting those big spenders."

Good article on IPF, my particular challenge

Moose arthritis leads to new medical insights
Excerpt: What do the elderly and moose have in common? According to experts, the same possible reason for their aches and pains. A new study shows that moose arthritis is linked with early malnutrition. The New York Times reports that an exceptional 50-year study of moose in Michigan shows that their osteoarthritis is linked to poor nutrition in the womb and beyond. And more importantly, the same seems to be true for people. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it affects more than 27 million people. It is a degenerative condition which involves the breakdown of cartilage between bones. It is primarily related to aging, which causes the water content of cartilage to increase while the protein makeup of cartilage degenerates. Generally, most cases of osteoarthritis have no known causes. But new information out of Michigan may change that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Political Digest August 28. 2010

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

I’m Motivated
I’m in Madison, WI on short notice family business, which is why the lack of posts. Friday night, we stopped at a store across from the Marine recruiters’ office. The recruiters were out there giving PT to about 20 “poolies” (recruits waiting to ship out to boot camp). Naturally, I wondered over. The recruiters spotted my USMC cover (hat for you civilians) and suspenders. And called me over. They shook my hand, and had the recruits do the same, then had me tell the recruits about my service. I also told them about my buddy, Maj. Gene Duncan, both his service and his books. Both got a loud Oohrah. They were putting the recruits through pull-up. They had a young, blue-eyed blond woman, about 18, pretty as she could be. She was motivated. Did 7 pull ups! I told her there were guys in my outfit in Vietnam couldn’t do that. Unlike in my day, these “poolies” looked like recruits already in their fourth week of boot came. They sounded off, popped to and were churning out the push up. They know boot camp will be tough and Afghanistan tougher, and they are volunteers, eager to serve. Even in the People’s Republic of Madison. It just motivated the hell out of me.

"Moral Hazard" in Politics by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: One of the things that makes it tough to figure out how much has to be charged for insurance is that people behave differently when they are insured from the way they behave when they are not insured. In other words, if one person out of 10,000 has his car set on fire, and it costs an average of $10,000 to restore the car to its previous condition, then it might seem as if charging one dollar to all 10,000 people would be enough to cover the cost of paying $10,000 to the one person whose car that will need to be repaired. But the joker in this deal is that people whose cars are insured may not be as cautious as other people are about what kinds of neighborhoods they park their car in. The same principle applies to government policies. When taxpayer-subsidized government insurance policies protect people against flood damage, more people are willing to live in places where there are greater dangers of flooding. Often these are luxury beach front homes with great views of the ocean. So what if they suffer flood damage once every decade or so, if Uncle Sam is picking up the tab for restoring everything? Television reporter John Stossel has told how he got government insurance "dirt cheap" to insure a home only a hundred feet from the ocean. Eventually, the ocean moved in and did a lot of damage, but the taxpayer-subsidized insurance covered the costs of fixing it. Four years later, the ocean came in again, and this time it took out the whole house. But the taxpayer-subsidized government insurance paid to replace the whole house. This was not a unique experience. More than 25,000 properties have received government flood insurance payments more than four times. Over a period of 28 years, more than 4,000 properties received government insurance payments exceeding the total value of the property. If you are located in a dangerous place, repeated damage can easily add up to more than the property is worth, especially if the property is damaged and then later wiped out completely, as John Stossel's ocean-front home was…..People change their behavior in other ways when the government pays with the taxpayers' money. After welfare became more readily available in the 1960s, unwed motherhood skyrocketed. The country is still paying the price for that-- of which the money is the least of it. Children raised by single mothers on welfare have far higher rates of crime, welfare and other social pathology. San Francisco has been one of the most generous cities in the country when it comes to subsidizing the homeless. Should we be surprised that homelessness is a big problem in San Francisco? Most people are not born homeless. They usually become homeless because of their own behavior, and the friends and family they alienate to the point that those who know them will not help them. People with mental problems may not be able to help their behavior, but the rest of them can.

Chairman: Fed 'will do all it can' to stimulate economic recovery
Excerpt: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday the central bank is ready to act with new stimulus efforts to ward off a further U.S. economic slowdown.
Amid repeated signs that the economy is suffering under the weight of high unemployment, low consumer spending and slow growth, Bernanke said the Fed has several options to boost the economy even with interest rates now near zero. In a wide-ranging speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bernanke said the Fed's monetary policymaking committee, "will do all that it can to ensure continuation of the economic recovery." The central bank has injected trillions of dollars into the U.S. economy since the fall of 2008 in an effort to stabilize the financial sector and prop up the broader economy. Bernanke outlined a series of possible Fed tools to put more money into the economy, including further purchases of longer-term securities and lower interest rates on reserves that banks place with the Fed. He did not say any move is imminent. "The task of economic recovery and repair remains far from complete," Bernanke said. (Ya think?)

Lower Expectations
Excerpt: In 2008, "60 Minutes" visited Denmark to report on a survey of international happiness conducted by Leicester University in England that concluded Danes are among the happiest people on Earth. The reason? They have low expectations and thus, as Morley Safer noted, "are rarely disappointed." This ought to be a Republican Party theme in the November and subsequent elections. If our expectations about politicians and government are lowered, we will then start expecting less from them and more from ourselves, then our prospects for happiness will likely be much improved. Take spending. Clearly we can't go on like this. People should ask their grandparents if their parents told them, "We can't afford it" when they asked for certain things. In this generation, the question of whether we can afford something is rarely asked. Our massive debt has produced an unease that America may be at greater risk from economic collapse than from terrorists. Excessive debt is terror by other means. Brian Riedl of The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org) has performed a useful service by analyzing the 10-year budget baseline of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which puts the deficit at $6.2 trillion. Riedl says that's a phony figure because CBO is forced to make assumptions based on what Congress tells it. The true baseline deficit, says Riedl -- based on a continuation of current spending and tax policies -- amounts to $13 trillion over the next decade.

Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman: I'm gay
Excerpt: Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and the former campaign manager for George W. Bush's 2004 re-election bid, has told his family and colleagues that he is gay, according to The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder. (If he helped to keep John Kerry out of the White House, I don’t care if he dates hamsters, he’s okay in my book. ~Bob)

Gay Party, not Ken Mehlman, should apologize
Excerpt: George W. Bush’s former campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, has announced to the world that he’s gay, and, predictably, the shrieks of outrage are fast reverberating. The gay blogger Joe Jervis, among many others, slammed Mehlman as a “quisling,” and the comments in his blog call Mehlman a Nazi, an Uncle Tom, and a self-hating sleazeball. The explicit message is basically that Mehlman, upon a singular urge for male flesh, is supposed to discard his feelings about every non-gay issue in the political arena and march into battle hoisting the rainbow flag. It may come as a shock to the maladjusted children who enjoy throwing temper tantrums in front of the White House, but the experience of homosexuality is not monolithic, nor is there any cosmic decree mandating that it be a monumental, revolutionary identity shift. Mehlman, whose sexuality is probably far more ambiguous than his caterwauling critics can relate to, is one of millions of gay men whose values and life experience simply do not align with Gay Party dogma. In all likelihood, Mehlman doesn’t understand why gay people care about marriage so much. I’m gay, and I certainly don’t. Am I supposed to feel like less of a human being until some bureaucrat validates my existence? Is this the message I’m supposed to internalize? Out of one closet and into another. The Gay Party apparatus closets just as many gay men as the Religious Right does. Less-effeminate gay men, as well as those with conservative dispositions, look at television shows like Glee, pop stars like Lady Gaga, gay activists maligning the merely misguided as hateful Nazis, and think: Is this what I’m supposed to relate to? Am I supposed to stop caring about economics and foreign policy simply because I’m attracted to men? Am I supposed to despise my Republican friends?

Upset likely in Alaska primary
Excerpt: If there had been any doubt that this is a year when no incumbent can afford to be caught off-guard, it has been put to rest by the ambush of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's Republican primary. Joe Miller, a virtually unknown Fairbanks lawyer whose candidacy had been fueled by the fury of the "tea party" movement and the high-powered endorsement of former governor Sarah Palin, was on the verge Wednesday of toppling Murkowski, a member of the Senate GOP leadership whose last name has reigned in Alaska politics for three decades. Although it is still possible that she might eke out a victory when the final absentee ballots are counted - a process that could take more than a week - Murkowski was running almost 2,000 votes behind Miller among the nearly 90,000 that had been totaled. "There is much, much yet to be counted," Murkowski said at a news conference in Anchorage, although Alaska political veterans said privately that they doubt she will find the numbers she needs in the remaining ballots.

Liberals and the Myth of an Anti-Muslim Backlash
Excerpt: Here's a thought: The 70% of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from ground zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth. Let's start with some data. According to the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims increased by a staggering 1,600% in 2001. That sounds serious! But wait, the increase is a math mirage. There were 28 anti-Islamic incidents in 2000. That number climbed to 481 the year a bunch of Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam on Sept. 11. Now, that was a hate crime.

The bad news and then the really bad news in Vietnam
John Kerry’s friends. Excerpt: LET’s take the really bad news first, because not only did it stink, but the Western governments that would normally lambast this kind of thing held their noses and moved on. Last Tuesday, at the 65th anniversary of Vietnam’s public security forces, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged the country’s police to continue to crush any fledgling political bodies that might threaten the ruling Communist Party regime. He told the security services to fight the “cunning plots of hostile forces and to prevent political opposition parties setting up to threaten our government.” Vietnam’s constitution forbids the existence of any political party except the Communist Party of Vietnam. Keep that in mind when you castigate Myanmar, which may horribly oppress opposition parties, but at least allows them to exist. Days before Dung’s odious exhortation, its effects were demonstrated when the police arrested Professor Pham Minh Hoang, a lecturer in applied mathematics at the Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Technology. Hoang was charged with belonging to an opposition group, and while he was being arrested, the police read out Article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code, which bars “activities aimed at overthrowing the government”.

The Last Refuge of the Liberal
Excerpt: Liberalism under siege is an ugly sight indeed. Just yesterday it was all hope and change and returning power to the people. But the people have proved so disappointing. Their recalcitrance has, in only 19 months, turned the predicted 40-year liberal ascendancy (James Carville) into a full retreat. Ah, the people, the little people, the small-town people, the "bitter" people, as Barack Obama in an unguarded moment once memorably called them, clinging "to guns or religion or" -- this part is less remembered -- "antipathy toward people who aren't like them." That's a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

'Iran's nuclear program is a threat'
Excerpt: Iran has enough low-enriched uranium to produce one to two nuclear weapons, but it would not be logical for it to cross the bomb-making threshold, said former UN chief of nuclear inspections Olli Heinonen in an interview with Le Monde Thursday which was cited by Reuters. Heinonen called Iran's nuclear program a "threat" in a rare public interview, given shortly before he stepped down from his position as deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Heinonen was head of the IAEA's nuclear safeguards arm, which monitors countries' nuclear programs to make sure they are intended for peaceful use. Heinonen left the post in August for personal reasons. The Finnish former director-general was an expert on Iran's nuclear program, Reuters said. Iran is suspected of creating the program with intent to develop a weapon, although Teheran insists the program is peaceful. Heinonen said Iran has three tons of low-enriched uranium, which if refined much further could fuel a bomb. "In theory, it is enough to make one or two nuclear arms," he told Le Monde. "But to reach the final step, when one only has just enough material for two weapons, does not make sense." He was interviewed just before he left office. Iran has asked Russia to join forces in establishing a nuclear consortium to supply fuel for the newly operational Bushehr plant, as well as other plants due to begin functioning in the future.

'Honour killing' sister arrested
Excerpt: The sister of suspected honour killing victim Shafilea Ahmed has been arrested on suspicion of an armed robbery which took place at her family home. Three men broke into the house in Warrington, Cheshire, at around 10.20pm on Wednesday and tied up Shafilea's mother Faranza and four of her adult children. The father, Iftikhar, was out of the house at the time. The thieves ransacked the house and fled with cash and jewellery.

10 Questions with ‘The Closing of the Muslim Mind’ author Robert R. Reillyhttp://dailycaller.com/2010/08/20/10-questions-with-the-closing-of-the-muslim-mind-author-robert-r-reilly/
Excerpt: "We should say that we respect Islam as a source of moral and spiritual order in the lives of millions of people but that to the extent Islam cannot itself respect peoples' freedom of conscience, it is not acceptable to us."

Brewer condemns report to UN mentioning Ariz. Law
Simple, we should have the same immigration and birthright citizenship laws as Mexico. They are, after all, the paragons in this debate, so doubtless the UN would approve? Excerpt: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer demanded Friday that a reference to the state's controversial immigration law be removed from a State Department report to the United Nations' human rights commissioner.
The U.S. included its legal challenge to the law on a list of ways the federal government is protecting human rights. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brewer says it is "downright offensive" that a state law would be included in the report, which was drafted as part of a UN review of human rights in all member nations every four years. "The idea of our own American government submitting the duly enacted laws of a state of the United States to 'review' by the United Nations is internationalism run amok and unconstitutional," Brewer wrote. Arizona's law generally requires police officer enforcing other laws to investigate the immigration status of people they suspect are illegal immigrants.

Terrifying anti-Muslim crime wave sweeping America, probably
That’s if you believe the screaming headlines, anyway. So, what have we got so far? We’ve got a drunk art school student who volunteers for a liberal organization that’s in favor of the Ground Zero Mosque. He stabbed a cabbie in midtown Manhattan after asking the guy if he was a Muslim. The kid’s in jail, and it looks like the cabbie, Ahmed Sharif, is going to be okay. Physically, at least. If anybody is qualified to opine on the Ground Zero Mosque, if anybody can be said to have Absolute Moral Authority™ on the issue, it’s Sharif, right? So, what does he think about it? “I know many people are upset. I didn’t support the mosque at Ground Zero, either,” the Jamaica, Queens, resident said. What do you know: Sharif don’t like it. Isn’t it amazing how quickly somebody can transform from “heroic survivor of a horrifying hate crime” to “evilmongering right-wing bigotard”? (I assume that when he recovers, Nancy Pelosi will want to investigate him. ~Bob)

Get Out The Vote ... With A Barf Bag?
Excerpt: A Republican candidate for Congress is hoping an unusual campaign gimmick can help him "sack" his opponent in November. It's a white paper bag that trumpets Republican Marty Lamb for Congress and all the issues that are the focus of his campaign. "This is a barf bag. They're not to be used in real life, but it's to get the message out," Lamb said. The message: If Congress is making you sick, then vote in somebody new like the Holliston real estate lawyer, who is running against Democratic incumbent Jim McGovern. "Every politician will hand out a traditional glossy handout. Here are the issues (on the bag). Catch the attention of the voters. (In my campaigns, I used to hand out plastic litter bags. People hung them in their cars, didn’t chuck them on the ground, and they were cheap. ~Bob)

Canada Thwarts Bombing Attempt
Didn’t get the memo. Say, Doctor, was it your poverty that made you a terrorist, as liberals claim? ~Bob. Excerpt: Canadian authorities said they found and foiled a terrorist bomb-making plot by three men here—one allegedly with links to the conflict in Afghanistan and another, a pathologist who auditioned for the TV show "Canadian Idol.'' The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested the trio of Canadian citizens after raids on their houses turned up schematics, videos, drawings, books and manuals for making explosives, said Serge Therriault, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer in charge of criminal investigations. The suspects—identified as Hiva Alizadeh, 30 years old; X-ray technician Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, both of Ottawa; and hospital worker Khurram Syed Sher, 28, of London, Ontario—were charged Thursday with "knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity." "A vast quantity of terrorist literature and instructional material was seized, showing that the suspects had the intent to construct an explosive device for terrorist purposes,'' said Mr. Therriault. The arrests Wednesday and Thursday "prevented the assembly of any bombs or terrorist attacks from being carried out,'' he added. (...) The RCMP said it found 50 circuit boards designed to detonate bombs remotely at the house of Mr. Alizadeh, the alleged leader of the group. No completed bombs were found, but the components are enough under Canadian law for Mr. Alizadeh to be charged with possession of an explosive device. Mr. Alizadeh was also charged with financing the purchase of weapons to be used against coalition forces in Afghanistan, although the RCMP didn't provide details. Other arrests are expected.

Obama’s Electioneers: Documentary to Reveal the Extent of 2008 Voter Fraud
Ho hum. Democrats have been fixing elections since fraud in IL & TX stole the presidency from Nixon in 1960. ~Bob. Excerpt: The New Black Panther case? That type of behavior didn't just happen on Election Day. It was rampant during the Democratic primaries. (Update: Don't miss Joe Hicks's new interview with the filmmaker of the documentary on PJTV.com.) I am a documentary filmmaker, a Democrat. During the 2008 primaries, I was asked by a former congressional investigator to watch for and document any voter fraud occurring in the Democratic Party caucuses. Complaints had been filed, claims that Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote but lost the caucus vote. What I witnessed in Texas — and later in many other states — were things I could never forgive. The New Black Panther case — think that was an isolated incident? It certainly wasn’t. That type of lawless behavior got started in the primaries. I listened to first-hand accounts of Obama’s supporters threatening Clinton’s. I heard accounts of Obama supporters stopping fellow Democrats from voting Hillary by any means possible — intimidation, locking doors to prevent entry, sending elderly voters to the wrong address, putting false start times on buildings, fabricating counts, using false information on caucus sign-in sheets, even stealing and altering caucus results. I recorded eyewitness accounts of people being bussed in from out of state to caucus in Indiana. And in Kansas. And Iowa. (...) Caucuses are undemocratic — politicians know this, but not all Americans, and you simply must. The documentary has a clip of Gloria Allred saying: “Lets get a Democrat in the White House, and then we will take care of the caucus.” This has, of course, not occurred — in fact, quite the opposite. A DNC committee co-chaired by Claire McCaskill has since voted to establish more caucuses, minimizing what transpired and disenfranchising the thousands of voters who sent complaints to Howard Dean, the DNC chair at the time. Why did a party, why did our country tolerate this behavior, which deserved nothing less than a protest march on Washington?

Pakistani Christians face aid discrimination: Vatican
Excerpt: Christians affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan face “systematic discrimination” in the distribution of aid, the news agency of a Vatican missionary body reported Thursday. The Fides news agency, a branch of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said aid was handled either by Muslim relief organisations or by government officials close to fundamentalists. Both discriminated against Christians and other minorities in distributing aid essential to survival, it said. About 200,000 Christian refugees in the Punjab province and about 600,000 Christians and Hindus in the Sindh province are affected by the phenomenon, Fides said, citing NGO sources on the ground. (Probably saving their cash to support the new Ground Zero mosque. ~Bob>)
EPA Now Accepting Public Comment on Petition to Ban Lead in Ammunition and Fishing Tackle
Excerpt: Environmental activists are pressing the Obama administration to ban the manufacture, processing and distribution lead shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, but hunting and Second Amendment groups say the EPA lacks the authority to do so, for starters. A petition submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 3 says ammunition and tackle manufacturers are now marketing a wide variety of non-lead, nontoxic bullets, shotgun pellets and fishing tackle, which can and should be used instead of lead projectiles and weights. “There is no technological or commercial reason why nontoxic ammunition and fishing tackle with comparable effectiveness should not be substituted for their lead counterparts,” the petition says. Petition signatories include the Center for Biological Diversity, American Bird Conservancy, Association of Avian Veterinarians, Project Gutpile, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The environmental activist groups note that the EPA is specifically prohibited from regulating ammunition or firearms under the Toxic Substances Control Act. But, the groups argue, “toxic components of ammunition can be regulated if nontoxic alternatives are commercially available.” ([First covered in TOJ on 5 Aug 2010~ Ron P] Although there is no new claim of harm to birds or wildlife, and eagles and such are rebuilding populations. Nannyism of the usual sort from the usual suspects. Do you hunt or fish? Do you hope to in the future? Here is a link to a pdf of the petition's text http://www.theoutdoorwire.com/media/Final-TSCA-lead-ban-petition-8-3-10.pdf
Although I wasted about 30 minutes searching for a public comment link dedicated to this issue, I couldn't find one (if you find one, please email it to the comments for today). The best alternative I can find is to mail comments to Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator at this address: Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency, USEPA Headquarters, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W., Mail Code: 1101A, Washington, DC 20460.)

The Perfect Iranian Storm on the Horizon
Excerpt: MJT: What is it that U.S. policy-makers don’t currently understand about this part of the world? If you could have their ears for five or ten minutes, what would you tell them? Jonathan Spyer: I’d tell the current bunch in power that they need to ditch this sophomoric idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key to the region’s malaise. They need to get that out of their heads. That’s not what I’d want to talk about. That’s not even an adult conversation. Once we can clear that up, we can talk about something serious. A perfect storm is brewing in the Middle East. We’re experiencing the convergence of two historical phenomena. The first is the rise of Iran, which we’ve already talked about. We have an ambitious ideological elite committed to radical Islam and the expansion of power. Second, in country after country in the Middle East, various forms of radical Islam are becoming the most popular and vivid forms of political expression. We have Hamas among the Palestinians, Hezbollah among the Shia of Lebanon, the Islamic Action Front in Jordan, and the Muslim Brothers in Egypt. We have an ideological wave from below with a powerful and potentially nuclear-armed sponsor on top. That’s the picture I’d want to place in the minds of the people in Washington. It’s the key regional dynamic through which most smaller processes have to be understood. (This is a very long interview, with pictures, of a respected Israeli reporter who "spent some time" covertly doing research in Lebanon. The excerpt is from near the end of the piece. Most valuable is the sense of place and attitudes of the inhabitants; it is wonderful background on the relationships between the various Middle Eastern countries and non-government political/military groups. Ron P.)

The Civilized World’s Dilemma in Dealing with Rogue States
Excerpt: Let’s take a step back and consider this as a case study. Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, was given a 27-year prison sentence in 2001 for involvement in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, mostly U.S. citizens. But of course Megrahi was just a scapegoat. He was acting in his capacity as a Libyan government official and in the end he took the rap like a loyal Mafia soldier. No doubt his family has been well provided for. Still, the conclusion is obvious: The Libyan government ordered the bombing. Muammar Qadhafi and his regime are responsible for this terrorist act, just as the Iranian and Syrian governments are responsible for directly ordering numerous terrorist attacks. So what’s a victim country to do? The traditional response to such behavior is a military attack, perhaps the seizure of part of the aggressive company or even the occupation of its capital and the overthrow of the regime. The idea is that the threat is thus removed, the malefactors punished, and an example is given to deter future imitators. One could say that this is what the United States did in Afghanistan and Iraq after September 11, with the former a response to the attack on the World Trade Center and the latter to Saddam Hussein’s frequent flouting of his previous agreements and reported pursuit of nuclear weapons. Does this mean that the proper response to the Lockerbie attack should have been a coalition attack on Libya and the overthrow of the Qadhafi regime? And what about the Western attitude toward the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip? Can a country act unilaterally to defend itself or must it await a UN resolution, without which nothing can be done at all?

Dems privately fear House prospects worsening
Excerpt: Top Democrats are growing markedly more pessimistic about holding the House, privately conceding that the summertime economic and political recovery they were banking on will not likely materialize by Election Day. In conversations with more than two dozen party insiders, most of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly about the state of play, Democrats in and out of Washington say they are increasingly alarmed about the economic and polling data they have seen in recent weeks. They no longer believe the jobs and housing markets will recover — or that anything resembling the White House’s promise of a “recovery summer” is under way. They are even more concerned by indications that House Democrats once considered safe — such as Rep. Betty Sutton, who occupies an Ohio seat that President Barack Obama won with 57 percent of the vote in 2008 — are in real trouble. In two close races, endangered Democrats are even running ads touting how they oppose their leadership. “Democrats kept thinking: ‘We’re going to get better. We’re going to get well before the election,’” said one of Washington’s best-connected Democrats. “But as of this week, you now have people saying that Republicans are going to win the House. And now it’s starting to look like the Senate is going to be a lot closer than people thought.”

Dangerous Dog Days of Summer http://townhall.com/columnists/VictorDavisHanson/2010/08/26/the_dangerous_dog_days_of_summer/page/full#
Excerpt: Historian Barbara Tuchman characterized the events leading up to World War I as the "Guns of August." While there is no statistical evidence that wars break out any more often in late summer than in other seasons, the world was torn apart twice during the 20th century: in early August 1914, and then again on Sept. 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Maybe it is the effects of the heat, or the sense of urgency to do something before the cold of winter; but nonetheless, we've also seen a lot of late-summer violence the last few decades. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, leading to an American-led air campaign and ground war in early 1991 that demolished the Iraqi army. On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 radical Islamic terrorists took down the World Trade Center complex and hit the Pentagon -- the worst foreign attacks on the continental United States since the British burned much of Washington, D.C., in 1814.

BP agents don't shy away from danger
Excerpt: One hundred and six. That's the number of Border Patrol Agents who have lost their lives in the line-of-duty since the Border Patrol first began patrolling our nation's borders. To me this demonstrates that the border is a dangerous place. It also tells me that Border Patrol agents do not shy away from doing their job because it's too dangerous. On Wednesday, the Yuma Sun published a front page article titled “Border Patrol agents told to stay out of dangerous areas.” The assertions contained in the article that Border Patrol agents have been instructed to “stay out of dangerous areas” are quite simply not true.

CIA Red Cell special memorandum
Excerpt: This CIA ”Red Cell” report from February 2, 2010, looks at what will happen if it is internationally understood that the United States is an exporter of terrorism; ’Contrary to common belief, the American export of terrorism or terrorists is not a recent phenomenon, nor has it been associated only with Islamic radicals or people of Middle Eastern, African or South Asian ethnic origin. This dynamic belies the American belief that our free, open and integrated multicultural society lessens the allure of radicalism and terrorism for US citizens.’ The report looks at a number cases of US exported terrorism, including attacks by US based or financed Jewish, Muslim and Irish-nationalism terrorists. It concludes that foreign perceptions of the US as an ”Exporter of Terrorism” together with US double standards in international law, may lead to noncooperation in renditions (including the arrest of CIA officers) and the decision to not share terrorism related intelligence with the United States. (Links to a pdf of the leaked document. Although trumpeted loudly in some of the press, this report not only isn't sensational, it is almost entirely stuff that was already floating around in the blogosphere and overseas press. Frankly, I can't imagine why they bothered to classify it so highly; "confidential" would have been adequate. Maybe they were worried about the telephone numbers on the left margin of the pages (you can only get those in the CIA/Mil phone book). Ron P. )

The Left’s Ongoing War on Logic
Excerpt: Somewhere between the presidency of Herbert Hoover and the much maligned career of Senator Joseph McCarthy, being Republican became “uncool.” That never bothered me though. I have long known that adulthood and hipness are mutually exclusive conditions. Yet for the last 40 years Democrats have depicted Republicans in the worst possible light, and, in the process, morphed serious minded human beings into personality caricatures. Rather than describe conservatives as fellow citizens, leftists cast us as variations upon the Church Lady, random geeks, fatcat capitalists like the one pictured on the Monopoly game, or as General Ripper in the film Dr. Strangelove. Their attempts at discrediting the right are both heinous and foul. Unfortunately, their efforts have partially succeeded in tarnishing the Republican “brand.” This is particularly evident in the perceptions of minority members and the young who see nothing grand in G-O-P. The left’s blitzkrieg against the right is psychological and devoid of logical refutation. In the mind of activists, responding to the contentions and objections we raise is unnecessary. (...) The one theme intrinsic to leftist politics is that citizens cannot be trusted to improve their lives on their own. Were it to be otherwise, then what use would we have for a gaggle of sanctimonious demagogues who lust for power and control? We must follow their lead as, in the words of our nation’s great divider: “Our individual salvation depends on collective salvation.” Another neo-socialist, Representative Barney Frank, placed love for statism in the proper euphemistic context. He summarized the Byzantine and corrupt practices of the Leviathan with the mundane utterance: “Government is the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” If you believe that, then you’ll buy that printing money results in economic stimulus. Rep. Frank is wrong, however. Government is the name for the things our elites do to us. We — the majority of Americans — do not wish to be slaves and live on handouts. It strikes Democrats as odd, but we prefer to be free. We understand that a monolithic state precludes personal autonomy and we don’t like it. A citizen bias in favor of liberty would be incontrovertible, if the press desisted in smearing as racist those who proclaim it. Were Americans openly encouraged to discuss our desires, it would soon emerge that being left alone and living in the manner we choose are chief amongst them.

IG Report Confirms: Recovery Act ‘Propaganda’ Signs Were Required (PJM Exclusive)
Excerpt: The final reports from the inspectors general on the stimulus road signs have been turned into Congressman Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) office. In late June, Issa requested an accounting from the various federal agencies involved in the stimulus on the bill’s requirements for signage. The signs, which tell passersby a project is being paid for by stimulus funds, have cost taxpayers as much as $10,000 in some cases. Issa and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) have publicly stated that the signs violate anti-propaganda laws which date to the 1950s. Issa called the signs politically motivated and wasteful, despite relaxed requirements from various agencies, including the Department of Transportation: (In the 1st sentence, the words "final report" link to a pdf of the Inspector General's report. Ron P.)

McCain’s easy win undercuts Democrats’ story line
Excerpt: This spring, liberal pundits were already anticipating the Aug. 24 primaries. It’s just that they were focusing on a Senate race in Arizona — not the one in Alaska. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, appears to have lost her primary unexpectedly to a conservative challenger, pending the counting of absentee ballots. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on the other hand, won easily on Tuesday. The race was expected to be a knock-down, drag-out affair, but it never got off the ground. McCain’s 24-point victory dramatically weakens a narrative that liberal pundits have been pushing all year to frame the November elections. It was best summed up by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews back in April: “Republican purge! Arlen Specter is out! John McCain, Charlie Crist and Robert Bennett are all being threatened on the right.” The problem with this story is that John McCain’s defeat was supposed to be its most important chapter. The story went something like this: Mouth-breathing conservative crazies had driven popular, “electable” moderates in Pennsylvania and Florida out of their party’s Senate races, replacing them with “unelectable” wingnuts. Now they were going to purge even their own 2008 presidential nominee — and with an ugly flourish of xenophobia.