Monday, August 2, 2010

Political Digest August 2, 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.
I missed posting Sunday as I had to work Saturday, so this will be a tad long. I recommend you only read 90% of it. I can’t believe that it’s August already.

Paying tribute to Charlie Rangel
I suspect they will all show, power and politics being far more important than ethics. Excerpt: With impeccable timing, the Democrats' leadership and big donors plan a gala 80th birthday bash for tax-cheating tax writer Charles Rangel, soon to face an Ethics Committee trial on 13 charges. Alexander Bolton of The Hill writes: "Lobbyists and other party donors received invitations this week to join Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and New York Gov. David Paterson (D) at one of New York's finest hotels to celebrate Rangel's birthday. Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are also listed as featured guests, according to an invitation viewed by The Hill. Some guests received the invitation a day after the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct issued a report accusing Rangel of 13 ethics violations." I strongly encourage Democrats to whoop it up.

Waters chooses ethics trial
Excerpt: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has chosen to go through an ethics trial, like the one lined up for New York Rep. Charles Rangel, rather than accepting charges made by an ethics subcommittee, a source familiar with the process tells POLITICO. The back-to-back trials of a pair of black lawmakers represent an unprecedented use of an ethics adjudication system that has rarely been used by House members accused of breaking House rules. Waters' case revolves around allegations that she improperly intervened with federal regulators to help a bank that her husband owned stock in and on whose board he once served. Waters denies any wrongdoing. "Congresswoman Waters has chosen to go through an adjudicatory subcommittee hearing, rather than accept any of the counts from the investigative subcommittee," the source told POLITICO. In layman's terms, that means she's going to trial.

The crisis of middle-class America
Life in a blue state. Excerpt: Once upon a time this was called the American Dream. Nowadays it might be called America’s Fitful Reverie. Indeed, Mark spends large monthly sums renting a machine to treat his sleep apnea, which gives him insomnia. “If we lost our jobs, we would have about three weeks of savings to draw on before we hit the bone,” says Mark, who is sitting on his patio keeping an eye on the street and swigging from a bottle of Miller Lite. “We work day and night and try to save for our retirement. But we are never more than a pay check or two from the streets.” Mention middle-class America and most foreigners envision something timeless and manicured, from The Brady Bunch, say, or Desperate Housewives in which teenagers drive to school in sports cars and the girls are always cheerleading. This might approximate how some in the top 10 per cent live. The rest live like the Freemans. Or worse. It only takes about 30 seconds to tour Mark’s 700sq ft home in north-west Minneapolis. Cluttered with chintzy memorabilia, it was bought with a $50,000 mortgage in 1989. It is now worth $73,000. “At one stage we had it valued at $105,000 – and we thought we had entered nirvana,” says Mark. “People from the banks kept calling, sometimes four or five times an evening, offering equity lines, and home improvement loans. They were like drug pushers.” Solid Democratic voters, the Freemans are evidently phlegmatic in their outlook. The visitor’s gaze is drawn to their fridge door, which is festooned with humorous magnets. One says: “I am sorry I missed Church, I was busy practicing witchcraft and becoming a lesbian.” Another says: “I would tell you to go to Hell but I work there and I don’t want to see you every day.” A third, “Jesus loves you but I think you’re an asshole.” Mark chuckles: “Laughter is the best medicine.”

Truths We Dare Not Speak About Illegal Immigration Victor Davis Hanson
Excerpt: In the last 48 hours almost everything that can be said about illegal immigration has been said. But I am more interested in a few truths that are never quite spoken. 1) Why the Sense of Exemption? Why and how exactly do the supporters of illegal immigration justify massive disobedience of federal law? I suspect the answer is predicated in large part on the source of illegal immigration — that if it were a question of a half-million entering illegal Rwandans or Balkan peoples each year, the issue would have remained strictly a matter of legality. I posed a hypothetical once to a Mexican consular official in a public debate, framing the request by inquiring whether he thought there would be anything wrong, say, with freighters coming ashore on the California coast, and unloading 1-2,000 Chinese nationals on average each day — few of whom would be legal, English-speaking, or with high-school diplomas. He seemed shocked, outraged even — more so, when I added that Chinese-language facilities would be soon mandated within public services, and a sort of Chinese cultural appreciation movement would be embedded within the schools to help encourage and invigorate illegal Chinese immigrants in their own personal odysseys within California. My own puzzlement lasted mere seconds, since the consul quickly cited Mexico’s historical affinity with, and indeed (emotional, linguistic, legal?) claims upon, the southwestern United States. Presto — here arose the unspoken assumption of the advocates of open borders (or at least of those who feel that illegal aliens should be exempt from federal immigration statutes): historical grievances have made enforcement of the law rather debatable, given that sovereignty, national borders, and the notion of a definable America altogether are “problematic.”

Our Patrick Henry Moment Is Here
Excerpt: In the 1920s, Ludwig von Mises demonstrated via economic reasoning why socialism could not work. His argument was that without market prices, there was no way to properly allocate resources. About ten years later, Friedrich Hayek supported Mises' conclusion from a different angle. He approached it as a "knowledge problem" and argued that no central authority, regardless of how intelligent, could possess enough information to make proper and efficient decisions for tens of millions of people and businesses. History validated the theory of the two Austrian economists. Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Cuba, and North Korea produced (the) inevitable... misery, poverty, and brutality. The two countries that continue the system are amongst the poorest countries in the world, held together only by totalitarian rule and outside economic support. With the recognition that socialism did not work, "do-gooders" changed their efforts to a system that would be part capitalism and part socialism. They believed that capitalism could be used for resource allocation while the "caring nature" of socialism could ensure equitable distribution of wealth. President Clinton expressed interest in what was then referred to as a "third-way." Western Europe had adopted this approach decades earlier. Interestingly, Mises argued that a "third way" could not work, either. In the 1940s, Mises demonstrated that one intervention begets additional interventions. A so-called mixed system is nothing more than capitalism with interventionism imposed. Mises showed that any such system eventually degenerates into full-fledged socialism. (...) As a result of attempting to extend the socialist myth, governments and their populations are now burdened with debt, much of which will never be paid. We are on the verge of a worldwide depression that will hit as governments run out of resources. It is likely that politicians will continue to play the game of "extend and pretend." But we have reached Ms. Thatcher's end-point: "The problem with socialism is that you run out of other people's money." How ironic that President Obama's first major achievement was ObamaCare. In May, Greece was ordered to privatize its health care system. This month, it was reported that England was going to overhaul their health care system. England was frequently referenced as a model of affordable, efficient health care by ObamaCare advocates. Apparently, the English government and its people view it differently.

Repent -- The End Is Near
Yup. Excerpt: "It hides the economic substance of what's really happening-an unlimited taxpayer bailout." William Black, a former no-nonsense regulator, described in that statement everything that has happened and continues to happen. It represents the federal government's approach to "saving" the economy -- subterfuge and no limits. Mish went on to add: "To address the situation, the FDIC is going to start selling U.S.-guaranteed FDIC senior certificates. However, it has no Congressional authority to do so according to former thrift regulator William Black." These quotes summarized the double-speak, unconstitutional acts, bullying, outright lies, and trampling of the Rule of Law that now describes our government. As I reflect on the country and where it is headed, it not easy to be optimistic. I have children and grandchildren who will not have the opportunities or amenities that I had. That is not my or their fault. No one has meaningful input as to what is happening. Everything is imposed, whether it is popular or not. We have become mere pawns in the Ponzi scheme of government.

SB 1070 protests counterproductive
Excerpt: So, Senate Bill 1070 has pretty much been gutted for the time being, which most people would see as a victory for the protesters. But apparently they aren't satisfied with that; they want to rub people's faces in it. They go out Thursday and block traffic and make it hard for citizens trying to get to work. They are screaming in Spanish and waving their Mexican flag around, even though they are in the United States. They don't have enough respect for three Valley police officers who were shot, one of whom was killed, to delay their protest for a day or so. Then we have protesters from out of state who are here for their own agenda, i.e., labor unions. Apparently whoever organizes these protests isn't bright enough to see that they are just making people mad and increasing the strength of those who are for SB 1070 and want the immigration laws enforced. (Well, the supporters of SB1070 blasting the judge, who hasn’t made a final ruling, aren’t too bright either. Why piss off someone you hope will rule your way?)

Leno on SB1070
Heard Leno on the issue Friday night. He said they are going to change SB1070 to WD40, so the illegals can slip in and out of Arizona more easily! Too funny.

Ethics trials highlight racial tensions in Congress,0,6275435.story?om_rid=Mqh-D0&om_mid=_BMVXdiB8Q6vQ$V&
We will know we have a post-racial society when a black or Hispanic politician gets charged or challenged on something, and DOESN’T play the race card. Excerpt: The prospect of two long-serving African American lawmakers in the House enduring unprecedented public ethics trials seems likely to add to the growing tension between black members of Congress and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and in the Obama administration. Congressional sources confirmed late Friday that later this year Rep. Maxine Waters (D- Los Angeles) will face an ethics proceeding likely related to allegations that she sought to help a bank with ties to her husband receive federal bailout funds. The House trial could come on the heels of the high-profile trial of Rep. Charles B. Rangel, the venerable Democrat from New York who is accused of 13 violations of House ethics rules. Like Rangel, Waters chose not to seek a settlement with House ethics investigators that would have involved some admission of wrongdoing. Between them, Rangel, 80, and Waters, 71, have served in the House for six decades and are leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The caucus has long complained that the House ethics process disproportionally targets African Americans in the chamber. Since its 2009 inception, the Office of Congressional Ethics — an independent watchdog set up at the behest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — has investigated at least eight members of the black caucus. (Perhaps it is worth pointing out the ethics committee, like all other House committees, is dominated by Democrats. It is Democrats who controlled whether of not these charges (for both Rangel and waters) were carried forward. Further, those Democrats had to know there was an election coming and still believed the offenses were serious enough to pursue anyway. This wouldn't be something they'd take lightly, as each of the other committee members is also up for re-election. Ron P.)

Taxpayer breakdown
Comment from a Marine buddy: The link below provides a very neat report on who pays what in taxes, for the year 2007. It's interesting to see that the top 1% of taxpayers actually paid 40.4% of the taxes collected, while all the people in the lower half of the taxpayer group only paid a total of 2.9% of the total collected. It's also clear that the average tax rate starts out highest for the high income people and steadily drops as the person's income drops. If we roughly define the upper middle class as the people in the 6-50% brackets, they pay a total of 36.5% of taxes collected, while what we can all the well-off people (top 5%) pay a total of 60.6% of taxes collected. So we really have a progressive tax structure in this country, and the majority of people pay little to no tax, and the wealthier people pay steadily more tax. It is true that the 22.5% that our richest 1% pay is a much lower rate than even well-off people in most Western countries pay, where tax rates can climb right up to 75% or more (Sweden). Of course what's not in these calculations are things like the local sales and property taxes, which take a higher fraction of the income of poorer people than of rich ones, or how much people pay for health insurance, which people in many other Western countries do not have to buy at all. On the other hand, in those countries there are very high gas taxes and almost everyone has a VAT tax of at least 10% on everything they buy, which adds to their already high income tax burden. Bottom line is that probably 80% of all Americans actually have a more affluent lifestyle and more disposable income than most people in all the other Western nations. Comparisons with 3rd world nations are pointless, the disparity between life in the US and life for people living in tribal areas and backward countries is too great to be worth discussing. However, things maybe changing for all of us in the coming years. --Del

Closing out dissent
Excerpt: The phenomena of disinvitation and the brotherhood of silence. e scientific behaviour described in this article is pathological, for the essence of scientific methodology is the free sharing of data, and the unfettered and unprejudiced discussion of those data. Issuing statements of “consensus” or “authority” is antithetical to good science, and especially so in circumstances where the originating organisations have been established with political intent, have acted to restrict public debate or have a financial conflict of interest. Those familiar with the global warming issue will know that (IPCC) authority rules, despite it being well known that some IPCC practitioners of warming alarmism have flouted correct scientific procedures since the 1990s. And, anyway, a science truth is so not because the IPCC, the Royal Society or the Minister for Science asserts it to be so, but because it is based upon a hypothesis that has survived repeated testing by many independent scientists. The behaviour is not just pathological. It is also part of a much wider pattern of science degradation that has developed since the 1980s. The change has been caused in part by the insistence of politicians that taxpayers’ money must be used in support of scientific research that is “useful” or “in the national interest”. Such superficial diktats are attractive to bureaucrats and businessmen, but they have proved to be a recipe for turning scientists from experts in problem solution into experts in (insoluble) problem creation. Given the persistence of such attitudes, Australia will never see the Tasmanian forests, the Murray-Darling River or the Great Barrier Reef “saved”, and nor will we ever be free from the ogre of human-caused climate change.... The historical development of these phenomena has been described succinctly by Doug Edmeades, a senior New Zealand agricultural scientist, in the following statement: In brief, from the age of enlightenment we have emerged into the philosophy of post-modernism which sets aside evidence as the authority and asserts that the ‘truth’ is what you believe – if you believe it, then it is your ‘truth’. Importantly all opinions are to be given equal authority irrespective of the where the evidence may lie. These ideas have progressed to what is now called ‘Post Normal Science’. This holds that science is subservient to the story that must be told. The role of science is no longer about discovering new ‘truth’ but supporting the ‘story’ which is perceived to be the truth. This gives rise to the notion of “noble-cause science”, which allows scientists to ignore contrary evidence, or worse, manipulate the evidence, if the cause is noble. We have seen evidence of this in the climate change debate. (This is a fascinating look at how the "debate" over climate science has become so one-sided in the western world's public arena. I think it is safe to extrapolate from this Australian scientist's experience that this is happening in every western nation. The "ABC" and all other such acronyms should be assumed to have the "A" meaning "Australian," not "American." Ron P.)

Letter from a border war
Excerpt: The most dangerous place in Arizona right now, the day after a federal judge knocked down the key parts of SB 1070, the state’s proposed anti-illegal immigration bill, is between Joe Arpaio and a camera. Arpaio, the 78-year-old sheriff of Maricopa County (population 3.9 million) has cultivated a reputation for himself as the last true lawman of the West. He’s written two books, the last called “Joe’s Law: America’s Toughest Sheriff Takes on Illegal Immigration, Drugs, and Everything Else That Threatens America.” He has reintroduced chain gangs. He houses convicts in “Tent City,” where inmates remain exposed to the elements 365 days a year. Mostly, though, he has become a national figure due to his campaign against illegal immigrants and his disdain for what he believes are weak federal policies in enforcing regulation and deportation. o this past Thursday, as the temperature hit 105 degrees (and despite what you may have heard about Arizona, it’s not a dry heat), Arpaio is holding two press conferences in the parking lot outside his facility in Phoenix. The first is at noon, a quick 15-minute briefing. Sheriff Joe, as he is known, stands behind a cheap brown podium and in front of a huge tractor-trailer, painted white with red lettering. It reads, “CALL 602-876-4154 WITH ANY INFO/TIPS ON ILLEGAL ALIENS.” His name is on this truck, as it is on just about every vehicle parked here, and he stands unbowed by the heat even as the bulk of the faltering press corps takes shelter under the shade of two tents. I guess you could call this a crime-suppression operation in front of our jail,” he says. It’s unclear what he’s talking about, since the only people around are members of the press. The surrounding land is flat, arid and empty; no one ambles around on foot in this part of town. The thousands of people who are protesting the bill are a 20-minute ride away, outside City Hall. But Sheriff Joe will get there in due time. Why should I back down?” he says. Of US District Judge Susan Bolton’s SB 1070 ruling, which prohibits police from asking anyone stopped for questioning whether they are in this country legally, he insists neither he nor his officers will obey. (Arizona ranks sixth in illegals, with 283,000; in the run-up to SB 1070, many reportedly fled the state. Day laborers who spoke to The Post say their numbers have dropped, that people have stopped showing up on street corners looking for work.) “It’s her opinion,” he says. “I’m still doing the same thing. If any policeman pulls someone over and doesn’t want to ask — we ask. And those that are here illegally — I would highly recommend that they get out of town. Go to California — that’s an amnesty state. Or New York.”

Islam vs. the West: What you need to know
Excerpt: My college Greek tutor used to tell the story of his college Greek tutor, who would end every class by stepping to the blackboard, writing down two or three points, and saying, “Gentlemen, this is the irreducible minimum you should take away from this class.” Let me emulate that example and offer the irreducible minimum you should take away from the news today. It’s from the indispensable Andy McCarthy over at National Review Online. His column is called “It’s about Sharia,” and the irreducible minimum I’d like to highlight is this striking proposition: “Islamism is not a movement to be engaged, it is an enemy to be defeated.” Please, commit that to memory. Think of it every time someone tells you that Islam means “peace” or starts making excuses for the latest chapter in the annals of Islam’s war against the West. For that’s what were talking about here: Islam’s war against the West. It’s not Islam’s misuse of commercial airliners, its penchant for sawing off the heads of people they disapprove of, or even its profound lack of sympathy for bacon. No, it’s Islam’s fundamental, essential incompatibility with foundational Western values like free speech, the separation of church and state, and equality under the law. Such things are not simply missing from Islam: they are positively repudiated by Islam, a fact that is ingredient in the very word “Islam,” which, pace the multiculturalists, means not “peace” but “submission,” i.e., submission to the will of Allah.

New Definitions for Racism
Too true.

Iranian woman facing death by stoning: "Many nights, before sleeping, I think to myself how can anybody be prepared to throw stones at me; to aim at my face and hands? Why?"
Excerpt: The answer is, simply: Muhammad. Per Qur'an 33:21, he is the supreme example of conduct for Muslims. Muhammad's involvement in stonings is recorded in Sunni ahadith, and the tradition has clearly survived in the Shi'ite tradition as well. It doesn't matter that stoning doesn't appear in the Qur'an, because the notion of Islam as a sola scriptura faith is a far-fetched tool of apologists to make the Qur'an appear uncreated, and less dependent on the time and place in which it appeared. But the Qur'an-only movement is actually a minority view at variance with the prominent sects of Islam. And then there's this: 'Umar said, "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, "We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book," and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession." Sufyan added, "I have memorized this narration in this way." 'Umar added, "Surely Allah's Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him" (Sahih Bukhari 8.82.816).

Domestic abuse rampant in modern, moderate Turkey
Excerpt: Qur'an 4:34, the verse in which Allah green-lights beating one's wife, has far-reaching consequences in letter and spirit. It makes the Muslim family a microcosm of the Qur'anic deity's ordering of the universe and society, where submission is paramount, and the one who feels entitled to be in charge -- whether Muhammad's deity or the man of the house -- can do as he pleases, and is free to resort to brutality to ensure submission... while demanding to be called compassionate and merciful, of course. To do otherwise might hurt his feelings, and the rage that ensues would be your fault, naturally. Thus, even in an ostensibly secular Muslim society, the idea that it is okay to beat your wife persists. And there is only one way it can be passed off as "culture": recognizing that the culture is informed and suffused with the priorities, issues and hangups of Muhammad's own culture (and of Muhammad himself), which upholding him as a prophet make sacrosanct.

Woman not allowed to teach after burqa refusal
Excerpt: A lady teacher in West Bengal's first Muslim university, the Aliah University, was not allowed to teach after she refused to wear the burqa (veil) inside the varsity premises.
Sirin Middya, a guest lecturer of the university, along with eight other lady teachers got a 'diktat' from the leaders of the students' union to wear burqa and attend the college. 'I was asked by the leaders of the student's union to wear burqa and attend the college and if I don't abide by the diktat, they won't allow me to attend the college. Then after a few days as we were entering the university campus, they started shouting slogans 'those who are against purdah system should go to hell',' Middya told IANS.

Army Widens Probe Into WikiLeaks Scandal
Excerpt: Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking an air strike video, was in solitary confinement Saturday as suspicion mounted about his possible involvement in the recent WikiLeaks scandal and prosecutors investigated whether anyone else should join him behind bars.

Protesters throw tires and broken glass onto I-19
Excerpt: SB-1070 opponents are taking their protests up to a potentially dangerous level.
Several men used tires and broken glass to block fast moving traffic on Interstate 19 in south Tucson. Department of Public Safety officers say two or three trucks stopped under the pedestrian bridge that crosses I-19 near Irvington. Police say they jumped out and strung tires, tied together by rope, across the lanes to stop traffic. The protesters also shattered several glass bottles filled with paint and tar to stop traffic so that everybody could see their demonstration. They briefly held up signs and banners calling for a demilitarization of the U.S.- Mexico border.

Homeland Security at Work
Too funny.

Magical Thinkers in Washington
Excerpt: Predictions of cost savings through ObamaCare, like most liberal politics, were based on magical thinking. If they want something to be true with sufficiently intensity, liberals know it must be true. Small children are natural magical thinkers. Ask any psychologist, pediatrician, or parent. Magical thinkers believe that because they want it or can conceive of it, "it" is so, or will be so. The magically thinking child ties a cape on his back and knows that with it on, he can fly. When he jumps off the roof, he will, of course, fall, not soar like Superman. The usual cure for magical thinking is ToT (tincture of time) and evidence. People in Congress and in the White House, though not physically small, behave like children: They depend on magical thinking. Because they say it, "it" will be. The latest example is the passage of ObamaCare (HR 3950). If House Speaker Pelosi says that HR 3590 will save money, it must save money. If President Obama says his health care "reform" will increase care, reduce errors, and improve quality, it will happen (because he said so). A realistic thinker recognizes that spending a trillion dollars in order to "save money" is like putting on your superhero cape.

The elite's bogus appeal to 'authority'
Excerpt: One of the ruling class's favorite propaganda points is that they are smart and if you disagree with them you, in fact, are dumb. Historian Paul Johnson pointed out the liberal ruling class's penchant for self puffery when he wrote Intellectuals. To give you an idea of where Johnson was going, chapter 1 is titled - Jean-Jacques Rousseau; ‘An Interesting Madman.' In the book Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell exposes the "intellectual" ruling class who, as National Review put it, "Exalt themselves by denigrating our society - and are working to destroy it." The fabrication of this worldview, i.e., that liberals are the smartest, best and the brightest, and above reproach, has been the underlying template for how we are to view our world. Just ask any liberal. Liberals are self described authorities on everything. Persuasive speech writing technique implores that the speech giver make an "appeal to authority" to persuade his audience. This is why Algore tells his audience that they don't have to take his word for it, just ask the experts. Ask the scientists, they are the authorities!

See no evil
Excerpt: It's springtime for Jew haters. This week Oscar winning conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone joined Helen Thomas and Mel Gibson in the swelling ranks of out-of-the-closet celebrity Jew haters. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Stone said that Adolf Hitler had been given a bum rap and that through "Jewish domination of the media," the Jews have inflated the importance of the Holocaust and wrecked US foreign policy. In the wake of criticism in Jewish circles, on Wednesday Stone's publicist issued a mealy-mouthed clarification. Stone failed to retract or amend his statement that "There's a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f---ed up United States foreign policy for years." He also did not retract his view that Jews use the Holocaust to control American foreign policy. Stone simply referred to his claim that Jews make too much of the Holocaust because the Germans killed more Russians than Jews as "clumsy." He then broadened his initial allegation that Jews make too much of the Holocaust by allowing that we are joined in our efforts by non-Jews. And since non-Jews are involved also, he was wrong to criticize us.

An American Working in Mexico
We should make our immigration laws as tolerant as Mexico—but no more so. Excerpt: I spent five years working in Mexico. I worked under a tourist visa for three months and could legally renew it for three more months. After that you were working illegally. I was technically illegal for three weeks waiting on the FM3 approval. During that six months our Mexican and US Attorneys were working to secure a permanent work visa called a FM3. It was in addition to my US passport that I had to show each time I entered and left the country. Barbara's was the same except hers did not permit her to work. To apply for the FM3 I needed to submit the following notarized originals…

Memo to the President
Excerpt: A failed presidency is a terrible thing to witness. A failed presidency with more than two years left to run is also dangerous for the country. So, even though it would be easy for The Weekly Standard to allow your administration to continue on its current path to perdition, thereby ensuring massive GOP gains this November and a likely victory in 2012, we offer, in a spirit of bipartisanship and patriotism, some advice. Here are three simple steps that you can take that would help right your presidential ship, reduce the scale of what now looks like a huge blowout in November, and give you a chance to govern successfully over the next couple of years.

Clinton comptroller blasts government workers’ accrual of benefits at expense of private sector workers
Excerpt: America’s recession is exposing societal fault lines, as various groups fight over increasingly smaller pieces of the pie. Tensions are particularly flaring between government workers and employees of private businesses. David Walker, the U.S. comptroller appointed by President Bill Clinton who continued in the role under George Bush, on Friday gave a bracing indictment of the pension and salary benefits being rewarded to government workers at the federal, state and local level. Walker said that public sector workers are growing prosperous on the back of private sector workers. “There is a huge gap. State and local plans on average … are much more lucrative than typical plans for employees. State and local government employees, on average, have greater job security than people in the private sector. And state and local government employees, in the middle of government, in many cases make more money than their private sector counterparts,” Walker said during a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to Pew numbers provided by the Chamber, the budget gap to cover state employees’ benefits totals $1 trillion.

Chilling effect: Violence silences Mexican media
News of attacks scarce out of fear of gang retaliation
Excerpt: Heavily armed troops patrol the city, combat erupts in the streets and mutilated bodies are dumped in parking lots, ditches and curbs. After years of relative calm, the gangland nightmare is back — and yet, barely a single mention of the clashes here has been made by local radio and television stations or newspapers. The city's journalists, having lost some of their own and seen their colleagues across the country killed or kidnapped, have been silenced for fear for their lives. "Nowhere is the media controlled more than it is here," said one reporter, who stressed he would face serious danger if identified. "There is total control." The extreme criminal violence flailing much of Mexico has returned to this rattled city on the Rio Grande where it started six years ago. On Sunday, the slaughtered bodies of four men - along with those of a dog and a cat - were left in front of Nuevo Laredo's bullring. Placards left with the bodies blamed one of the men for a grenade attack a few days earlier that killed one and injured more than a dozen at a sports complex. Several journalists and residents say the media here have been cowed into silence by attacks and a barrage of death threats from the Zetas, the gangsters many consider the real lords of Nuevo Laredo. Photographs and a brief story about the bodies at the bullring did appear Monday in local newspapers, but journalists from competing local media - all of whom fear being publicly identified - said the Zetas ordered the publication as a warning to their enemies. (A minor vignette into the kind of things that have been going on in Mexico for years now. Thousands of murders yearly, numerous bystanders wounded or dead as well, police murdered or corrupted, a real breakdown of law and order. When it even stifles a modern media, its extent becomes undeniable. And the government in Mexico City is worried about what kind of immigration laws are passed and enforced in this country? Maybe they should get their heads out of their butts and pay attention to the chaos in their own cities. Conservative as I am, I am in favor of legalizing at least some drugs here, which will allow their importation or production at a low cost, and wipe out the kind of profits that make the drug trade so attractive to so many in Mexico and elsewhere. That would go a long way towards crippling the cartels, which would be a good thing to do for ourselves and our neighbors. –Del)

No Afghan Ally Left Behind
Excerpt: A TALIBAN spokesman announced Thursday that the group is poring over the tens of thousands of classified military documents published by WikiLeaks this week, looking for the names of pro-American Afghans. As in the past, those identified will likely be added to lists of people to be assassinated, or rounded up once the United States and its allies leave the country. We’re already seeing this in Iraq where, as American troops prepare to withdraw, there is a campaign by insurgents to kill members of the Awakening movement and others who have cooperated with the United States. With the United States’ deadlines for leaving Afghanistan only a year away, we need to plan for what will happen to our allies once we’re gone. And we must certainly not allow a repetition of what happened in Indochina after the withdrawal in 1975 of our military forces, our diplomatic establishment and the Central Intelligence Agency. Because the United States made virtually no provision for the security of its friends and collaborators, millions of people accused of being American sympathizers were killed, imprisoned or compelled to flee as the North Vietnamese took power in South Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Pathet Lao in Laos. (I am pleasantly surprised to find this in the NYTimes. Talking about what happened in SEAsia in specifics is great, and lecturing on our responsibility to those with whom we've worked is too. But the real answer is to smash the Taliban so badly that they are not in a position to go after anyone, and we won't need to bring a crowd of Afghans here, many of whom would have one hell of a time adjusting to this society. --Del)

It’s About Sharia
Excerpt: The 2010 midterms have not happened yet, but the 2012 campaign is under way. For that we can thank Newt Gingrich. Not because Gingrich is a candidate, though he almost certainly is. And not because he can win, because that is by no means certain. We should thank Gingrich because he has crystallized the essence of our national-security challenge. Henceforth, there should be no place to hide for any candidate, including any incumbent. The question will be: Where do you stand on sharia? The former speaker of the House gets the war on terror. For one thing, he refuses to call it the “war on terror,” which should be the entry-level requirement for any politician who wants to influence how we wage it. Gingrich grasps that there is an enemy here and that it is a mortal threat to freedom. He knows that if we are to remain a free people, it is an enemy we must defeat. That enemy is Islamism, and its operatives — whether they come as terrorists or stealth saboteurs — are the purveyors of sharia, Islam’s authoritarian legal and political system. This being the Era of the Reset Button, Gingrich is going about the long-overdue business of resetting our understanding of the civilizational jihad that has been waged against the United States for some 31 years. It is the jihad begun when Islamists overran the American embassy in Tehran, heralding a revolutionary regime that remains the No. 1 U.S. security challenge in the Middle East, as Gingrich argued Thursday in a provocative speech at the American Enterprise Institute. The single purpose of this jihad is the imposition of sharia. On that score, Gingrich made two points of surpassing importance. First, some Islamists employ mass-murder attacks while others prefer a gradual march through our institutions — our legal, political, academic, and financial systems, as well as our broader culture; the goal of both, though, is the same. The stealth Islamists occasionally feign outrage at the terrorists, but their quarrel is over methodology and pace. Both camps covet the same outcome. Second, that outcome is the death of freedom. In Islamist ideology, sharia is deemed to be the necessary precondition for Islamicizing a society — for Islam is not merely a religious doctrine, but a comprehensive socio-economic and political system. As the former speaker elaborated, sharia embodies principles and punishments that are abhorrent to Western values. Indeed, its foundational premise is anti-American, holding that we are not free people at liberty to govern ourselves irrespective of any theocratic code, that people are instead beholden to the Islamic state, which is divinely enjoined to impose Allah’s laws.

Chicago: Where Criminals No Longer Fear the Police
Excerpt: It’s a shame that the public has to be reminded of this from time to time, but any cop can testify to this inescapable fact of police work: Where there is no punishment for criminal behavior, crime will flourish. Nowhere has this been demonstrated with greater clarity lately than in Chicago, where the Sun-Times has taken notice and sounded the alarm. In a three-part series that concluded Tuesday, reporters Mark Konkol and Frank Main examined the violent incidents that occurred over a single weekend in Chicago two years ago. During that 59-hour period, from April 18 -20, 2008, forty people were shot in the city, seven of them fatally. Stop and consider that for a moment: one city, one weekend, seven people murdered, and 33 others shot but still alive. As horrifying as those numbers are, they are far from the most disturbing revelation in the Sun-Times series. You might assume that such an extraordinary outbreak of carnage would have aroused the citizenry in Chicago to demand swift action from their police, prosecutors, and elected officials to see to it that those responsible for the violence were brought to justice. You might assume so, that is, if you don’t live in Chicago. As it happens, not a single suspect in any of those shootings has been convicted of a crime.

The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets
Excerpt: "Well, I like to think I have some mystery left to me, but apparently not!" Ms. Hayes-Beaty said when told what that snippet of code reveals about her. "The profile is eerily correct." Ms. Hayes-Beaty is being monitored by Lotame Solutions Inc., a New York company that uses sophisticated software called a "beacon" to capture what people are typing on a website—their comments on movies, say, or their interest in parenting and pregnancy. Lotame packages that data into profiles about individuals, without determining a person's name, and sells the profiles to companies seeking customers. Ms. Hayes-Beaty's tastes can be sold wholesale (a batch of movie lovers is $1 per thousand) or customized (26-year-old Southern fans of "50 First Dates"). "We can segment it all the way down to one person," says Eric Porres, Lotame's chief marketing officer. One of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found, is the business of spying on Internet users.

Taliban hunt Wikileaks outed Afghan informers
Excerpt: The Taliban has issued a chilling warning to Afghans, alleged in secret US military files leaked on the internet to have worked as informers for the Nato-led coalition, telling Channel 4 News "US spies" will be hunted down and punished. Speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location, Zabihullah Mujahid told Channel 4 News that the insurgent group will investigate the named individuals before deciding on their fate. "We are studying the report," he said, confirming that the insurgent group already has access to the 92,000 intelligence documents and field reports. We knew about the spies and people who collaborate with US forces. We will investigate through our own secret service whether the people mentioned are really spies working for the US. If they are US spies, then we know how to punish them." The US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said last night that America has a "moral responsibility" to protect those who might be in danger. (Somehow, I doubt the Taliban means to give the informers a "time out." Maybe Wikileaks will display a black wreath of mourning on their website. Or perhaps they'll just change their name to Gotta be a fitting and legal way to punish this. Ron P.)

Blow WikiLeaks Off The Internet
Excerpt: Now that the Taliban are scouring WikiLeaks for names of allies to kill from a trove of stolen U.S. documents, the White House is begging the site not to publish more. It should make WikiLeaks an enemy target. The horror we feared would happen is here. Friday, the New York Times reports the Taliban is studying 75,000 classified U.S. documents posted on WikiLeaks for names of informants, potential defectors and others who cooperated with American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. "We are studying the report," a gleeful Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Times. "If they are U.S. spies, then we know how to punish them." That means death for any Afghan who ever cooperated with us because those reports are loaded with names, identifying villages, parentages and potential defectors. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatens to publish more documents and publicly sneers at the prospect of deaths, mockingly saying the U.S. should launch criminal inquiries on U.S. soldiers instead. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen warns that Assange may "already have blood on his hands." The White House response is to focus on begging Assange, who leaked the documents, to stop. "Well, we can do nothing but implore the person that has those classified, top secret documents not to post anymore," said spokesman Robert Gibbs on Friday. That's not good enough. These leaks are a disaster for the U.S. war effort because its strategy depends on informants. (This arrogant, super-righteous MFAH Julian Assange needs to be dropped into Taliban territory wearing a T-shirt that says on the back, in Arabic or Pushtun, something nasty about Mohammed. That's not going to happen, but at the very least it's time for somebody somewhere, CIA, whoever, to blitz the WikiLeaks site and devote as much computer technology as needed to keep it blitzed. Meanwhile, they should be keeping track of murders in Afghanistan, and as soon as one of the men named in any of the released documents is killed, a petition to the international court in The Hague for a warrant for Assange's arrest as a war criminal should be filed and rigorously pursued. And anything else that can be done legally or maybe not so legally to come down on this miserable SOB needs to be done too. Time to stop pussyfooting around with people who really are our enemies and just get off on doing whatever they feel like, no matter how irresponsible, to attack us. --Del)

It is time in the West to defend not so much human rights as human obligations. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Playing Politics with 9/11
Excerpt: Last night in the House, a bill to provide $7.4 billion in funding over 10 years to those whose health was affected by the World Trade Center attack got 255 votes--well above a simple majority. But the bill failed because Democrats suspended the rules, which denied the Republicans the chance to offer any amendments and required a 2/3 majority to pass. According to Hill sources, Democrats suspended the rules because they were afraid that Republicans would offer a motion to recommit--the one amendment allotted to the minority party by the rules--to pay for the bill using money from Obamacare or the stimulus or an amendment to deny funds to illegal immigrants. This Fox News clip recaps the heated debate between Rep. Peter King (R, NY) and an enraged Rep. Anthony Weiner (D, NY) on the House floor last night. Both congressmen voted for the bill, but King said it was "cruel hoax" by Democrats to bring up the bill on a 2/3 vote when they knew it couldn't pass.

What the ‘Amnesty Memo’ Means
Excerpt: Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are facing a dilemma: Although they publicly bemoan the fact that Republicans won’t help them pass an unpopular amnesty . . . er, comprehensive immigration-reform bill, they don’t want to force vulnerable Democrats to vote on amnesty this close to the November elections — especially not with unemployment at 9.5 percent. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) may have uncovered the answer to their dilemma yesterday: an internal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services memo (reported here on NRO) that outlines steps the Obama administration can take “in the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform” — that is, lawfully enacted amnesty — to “reduce the threat of removal for certain individuals present in the United States without authorization.” The four authors of the memo, titled “Administrative Alternatives to Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” are political appointees USCIS chief of policy and strategy Denise Vanison (a former immigration attorney and partner at Patton Boggs) and USCIS chief counsel Roxana Bacon (former general counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association), and two career employees of USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas, another Obama appointee. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress — and only Congress — the authority to decide federal immigration law, but the Obama administration has come up with an extensive list of ways to ensure that a majority of the illegal aliens in the United States are allowed to remain here. Here are just three examples of the outrageous proposals in the memo:

Arpaio Behind 25% of US Deportations Since 2006
Excerpt: Without the benefit of their state's strict new immigration law, officers from a single Arizona county helped deport more than 26,000 immigrants from the U.S. through a federal-local partnership program that has been roundly criticized as fraught with problems. Statistics
obtained by The Associated Press show that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was responsible for deportations or forced departure of 26,146 immigrants since 2007.That's about a quarter of the national total of 115,841 sent out of the U.S. by officers in 64 law enforcement agencies deputized to help enforce immigration laws, some since 2006, under the so-called 287(g) program. The tens of thousands of immigrant arrests show local officials already have a significant amount of authority to enforce immigration laws and help remove illegal immigrants from the country. But with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio the top law officer among all those deputized, questions remain about what's in store when Arizona gives more officers the power to enforce immigration laws.

The Great (Double) Game
Excerpt: The trove of WikiLeaks about the faltering U.S. war effort in Afghanistan has provoked many reactions, but for me it contains one clear message. It’s actually an old piece of advice your parents may have given you before you went off to college: “If you are in a poker game and you don’t know who the sucker is, it’s probably you.” In the case of the Great Game of Central Asia, that’s us. Best I can tell from the WikiLeaks documents and other sources, we are paying Pakistan’s Army and intelligence service to be two-faced. Otherwise, they would be just one-faced and 100 percent against us. The same could probably be said of Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai. But then everyone out there is wearing a mask — or two. China supports Pakistan, seeks out mining contracts in Afghanistan and lets America make Afghanistan safe for Chinese companies, all while smiling at the bloody nose America is getting in Kabul because anything that ties down the U.S. military makes China’s military happy. America, meanwhile, sends its soldiers to fight in Afghanistan at the same time that it rejects an energy policy that would begin to reduce our oil consumption, which indirectly helps to fund the very Taliban schools and warriors our soldiers are fighting against. So why put up with all this duplicity? Is President Obama just foolish? It is more complicated. This double game goes back to 9/11. That terrorist attack was basically planned, executed and funded by radical Pakistanis and Saudis. And we responded by invading Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? The short answer is because Pakistan has nukes that we fear and Saudi Arabia has oil that we crave. So we tried to impact them by indirection. We hoped that building a decent democratizing government in Iraq would influence reform in Saudi Arabia and beyond. And after expelling Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, we stayed on to stabilize the place, largely out of fears that instability in Afghanistan could spill into Pakistan and lead to Islamist radicals taking over Islamabad and its nukes.

Calls for Rep. Rangel to give up his seat in the House are on the rise
Excerpt: The calls for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to resign are piling up as the congressman's ethics trial threatens to loom large over campaign season. The tally of House Democrats calling on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to resign his seat in Congress stood at eight as members adjourned for the August recess late Friday. That number includes Rep. Mike Arcuri (D-N.Y.), the first Democrat from Rangel's home state to call for his ouster. And so far, every House Democrat who has called for Rangel's ouster faces a viable Republican challenger this fall. (Surprise!)

Marine vet on the Walk For Work

Mullen: US Military Has Iran Attack Plan, Just in Case
Excerpt: The U.S. military has a plan to attack Iran, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday, although he thinks a military strike is probably a bad idea. Not long after Adm. Mike Mullen's aired on a Sunday talk show, the deputy chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard was quoted as saying there would be a strong Iranian response should the U.S. take military action against his country. Mullen, the highest ranking U.S. military officer, often has warned that a strike on Iran would have serious and unpredictable ripple effects around the Middle East. At the same time, Mullen said the risk of Iran's developing a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, although he would not say which risk he thinks is worse. "I think the military options have been on the table and remain on the table," Mullen said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "It's one of the options that the president has. Again, I hope we don't get to that, but it's an important option and it's one that's well understood." The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Revolutionary Guard deputy chief Yadollah Javani as saying Sunday that security in the Persian Gulf would be jeopardized "if Americans commit the slightest mistake." "The Persian Gulf is a strategic region. If the security of this region is endangered, they will suffer losses too and our response will be firm," Javani said. Iran repeatedly has threatened to target the heart of Tel Aviv, the second-largest city in Israel, should the U.S. or Israel take military action against it. (Hard to believe nobody remembered the key word "contingency." We probably have a "contingency" plan to retake New England after an invasion by Quebec. Either Mullen didn't remember to use the word or the reporter is trying to play gotcha. Ron P.)

U.S. stalls on trial for September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Excerpt: As the U.S. military prepares for the first war crimes trial under President Barack Obama, its most high-profile case against the planners of the Sept. 11 attacks is stuck in political and legal limbo. Canadian prisoner Omar Khadr, accused of killing an American soldier during a raid on an al-Qaida compound, is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 9 at the U.S. base in Cuba. But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the attacks, and four alleged accomplices are still sequestered at Guantanamo without charges. The Obama administration, after months of review, hasn’t made a decision on whether to seek a military or civilian trial. It’s a delay that has angered relatives of Sept. 11 victims. It also has created an unusual situation: Previous war-crimes proceedings, in which Mohammed boasted of his role in the attacks and said he wanted to plead guilty, have essentially been erased. No U.S. officials will say what the plans are for the five men who were transferred in 2006 to Guantanamo from secret CIA custody. “There’s no case, there’s no judge, there’s nothing,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard Federico, a military lawyer appointed to defend alleged plotter Ramzi bin al Shibh. “They are back into the black hole.” (...) Lawyers for the Sept. 11 defendants and other observers doubt an announcement will be made before November elections, because moving them to the United States and keeping them in Guantanamo for a military trial are both politically unpopular choices. “Why would you want to pay this political price in the three months before this election which you are expecting to do badly in?” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow and terrorism specialist at the Brookings Institution.

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