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.
Must read: Bowing to Islam's view of us by Mark Steyn
Excerpt: While I've been talking about free speech in Copenhagen, several free speech issues arose in North America. I was asked about them both at the Sappho Award event and in various interviews, so here's a few thoughts for what they're worth: Too many people in the free world have internalized Islam’s view of them. A couple of years ago, I visited Guantanamo and subsequently wrote that, if I had to summon up Gitmo in a single image, it would be the brand-new copy of the Koran in each cell: To reassure incoming prisoners that the filthy infidels haven't touched the sacred book with their unclean hands, the Korans are hung from the walls in pristine, sterilized surgical masks. It's one thing for Muslims to regard infidels as unclean, but it's hard to see why it's in the interests of us infidels to string along with it and thereby validate their bigotry. What does that degree of prostration before their prejudices tell them about us? It’s a problem that Muslims think we’re unclean. It’s a far worse problem that we go along with it. Take this no-name pastor from an obscure church who was threatening to burn the Koran. He didn’t burn any buildings or women and children. He didn’t even burn a book. He hadn’t actually laid a finger on a Koran, and yet the mere suggestion that he might do so prompted the president of the United States to denounce him, and the secretary of state, and the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, various G7 leaders, and golly, even Angelina Jolie. President Obama has never said a word about honor killings of Muslim women. Secretary Clinton has never said a word about female genital mutilation. General Petraeus has never said a word about the rampant buggery of pre-pubescent boys by Pushtun men in Kandahar. But let an obscure man in Florida so much as raise the possibility that he might disrespect a book – an inanimate object – and the most powerful figures in the Western world feel they have to weigh in. When someone destroys a Bible, U.S. government officials don’t line up to attack him. President Obama bowed lower than a fawning maitre d’ before the King of Saudi Arabia, a man whose regime destroys Bibles as a matter of state policy, and a man whose depraved religious police forces schoolgirls fleeing from a burning building back into the flames to die because they’d committed the sin of trying to escape without wearing their head scarves. If you show a representation of Mohammed, European commissioners and foreign ministers line up to denounce you. If you show a representation of Jesus Christ immersed in your own urine, you get a government grant for producing a widely admired work of art. Likewise, if you write a play about Jesus having gay sex with Judas Iscariot.
Limiting or limited government
Good article. Posted with permission.
Politics Versus Gold by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: One of the many slick tricks of the Obama administration was to insert a provision in the massive Obamacare legislation regulating people who sell gold. This had nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with sneaking in an extension of the government's power over gold, in a bill too big for most people to read. Gold has long been a source of frustration for politicians who want to extend their power over the economy. First of all, the gold standard cramped their style because there is only so much money you can print when every dollar bill can be turned in to the government, to be exchanged for the equivalent amount of gold. When the amount of money the government can print is limited by how much gold the government has, politicians cannot pay off a massive national debt by just printing more money and repaying the owners of government bonds with dollars that are cheaper than the dollars with which the bonds were bought. In other words, politicians cannot cheat people as easily. That was just one of the ways that the gold standard cramped politicians' style-- and just one of the reasons they got rid of it. One of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first acts as president was to take the United States off the gold standard in 1933. But, even with the gold standard gone, the ability of private individuals to buy gold reduces the ability of the government to steal the value of their money by printing more money. Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes. A hundred dollar bill would buy less in 1998 than a $20 bill would buy in the 1960s. This means that anyone who kept his money in a safe over those years would have lost 80 percent of its value, because no safe can keep your money safe from politicians who control the printing presses….. Whether gold is a good investment for individuals, and whether the gold standard is the right system for a country, are much more complicated questions than can be answered here. But what is clear is that the Obama administration sees people's freedom to buy and sell gold as something that can limit what the government can do. Indeed, freedom in general cramps the government's style. Those on the left may not be against freedom in general. But, at every turn, they find the freedoms granted by the Constitution of the United States hampering the left's agenda of imposing their superior wisdom and virtue on the rest of us. The desire to restrain or control the buying and selling of gold is just one of the many signs of the inherent conflict between the freedom of the individual and the left's attempts to control our lives.
Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work? http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1893946,00.html#ixzz10lvQKa7h
Excerpt: Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It's not the Netherlands.) Although its capital is notorious among stoners and college kids for marijuana haze–filled "coffee shops," Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don't enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal's drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead? Under Portugal's new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail. The question is, does the new policy work? At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to "drug tourists" and exacerbate Portugal's drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise. The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled. "Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does." (For a long time, I have thought this could be a legitimate option, mostly for economic reasons (deprive the business of its profits and soon no one else would enter the field). It also turns out to have useful unintended consequences, at least in Portugal. Ron P I’m for legalizing drug, having them sold by government license. Take the profit motive out, and reduce the need of the slimeball druggies to steal, prostitute or hook others. Then I’d shoot anyone caught selling without a license. My first preference, of course, would be to kill all dealers, but I can’t figure out how, so this seems better. ~Bob.)
J Street's a crooked road
Excerpt: The organization succeeded in identifying a leftist constituency looking for a voice in Washington. But 'The Washington Times' exposé is so devastating to its credibility and standing that its constituency needs a new champion Bravo to The Washington Times' national security correspondent Eli Lake for his exposé of J Street over the weekend. The so-called pro-Israel organization is bursting with scandals about the identity of its contributors, its decision-making process, its conflicting policies on Iran sanctions, its ties to pro-Iranian and Arab American organizations and more. But many reporters have been reluctant to shine a spotlight on it, fearful of running afoul of the White House, for whom J Street proudly serves as President Barack Obama's "blocking back." Since J Street's founding, Jeremy Ben-Ami has repeatedly lied about his organization's dependence on Israel's super-critic George Soros. Lake revealed that J Street's US tax records prove that Soros and his family are major contributors.
Free Speech or Free Tokes
Excerpt: Kevin Grimsinger came forward this summer as a special forces veteran who had lost parts of his legs in Operation Enduring Freedom. I wrote about him in July when he led the movement in Colorado to qualify veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder for medical marijuana. As it turns out, the double-amputee didn't serve in Afghanistan and wasn't injured by a land mine, as he claimed. Records show his military service ended a decade before he said he was hurt fighting in Kandahar in 2001. He was, in fact, paralyzed as a civilian in a crash on a mountain road in Southern California where, as he now tells it, he was trying to kill himself.... For his aunt in Northglenn — the first to speak out about his history — it's a classic case of stolen valor. "It's not right that he's living his life pretending to be some kind of war hero," said Linda DeBruyn, whose husband and son are war veterans....
Mexico Asks U.S. To Stop Deporting Serious Criminals
No big deal. I agree with them. We should just shoot them. ~Bob. Excerpt: In a flabbergasting request, a coalition of Mexican lawmakers has asked the United States to stop deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes in American courts. The preposterous demand was made at a recent southern California conference in which the mayors of four Mexican cities that border the U.S. gathered to discuss cross-border issues. The only American mayor who attended the biannual event was San Diego’s Jerry Sanders, evidently because his city hosted it this year at a fancy downtown hotel. Among the cross-border topics that were addressed at the conference was the deportation of Mexican citizens who have committed violent crimes in the U.S. The felons are persona non grata in their communities, say the mayors of Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nogales and Nuevo Laredo. They want U.S. officials to stem the deportation of such convicts to their cities, according to a local newspaper report  that covered the conference.
Wow: The Liberal San Francisco Chronicle Refuses to Endorse Barbara Boxer Over GOP Opponent Carly Fiorina…
Excerpt: Californians are left with a deeply unsatisfying choice for the U.S. Senate this year. The incumbent, Democrat Barbara Boxer, has failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office. There is no reason to believe that another six-year term would bring anything but more of the same uninspired representation. The challenger, Republican Carly Fiorina, has campaigned with a vigor and directness that suggests she could be effective in Washington – but for an agenda that would undermine this nation’s need to move forward on addressing serious issues such as climate change, health care and immigration. It is extremely rare that this editorial page would offer no recommendation on any race, particularly one of this importance. This is one necessary exception.
FBI Escorts Known Hamas Operative Through Top-Secret National Security Ctr.
Excerpt: A known Hamas operative and unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history – Kifah Mustapha – was recently escorted into the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center and other secure government facilities, including the FBI’s training center at Quantico, during a six-week “Citizen’s Academy” hosted by the FBI as part of its “outreach” to the Muslim Community. The group was accompanied by reporter Ben Bradley of WLS-Chicago (ABC), who filed a report on the trip to Washington D.C. on Sunday, who observed: Sheik Kifah Mustapha, who runs the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, asked some of the most pointed questions during the six week FBI Citizens’ Academy and trip to Washington. He pushed agents to fully explain everything from the bureau’s use of deadly force policy to racial and ethnic profiling. “I saw a very interesting side of what the FBI does and I wanted to know more,” Sheik Mustapha explained after returning from D.C. He hopes the FBI’s outreach runs deeper than positive public relations. Yes, I bet he wanted to know everything about the FBI’s policies. Curiously, Bradley’s report on the Citizen’s Academy fails to make note Mustapha’s extensive terrorist ties and support for Hamas, including his former employment with the Holy Land Foundation, which was listed as a specially designated terrorist group by the U.S. government in December 2001, and whose executives were convicted of terrorism support in 2008 and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Mustapha was personally named unindicted co-conspirator (#31) in the case and employment records submitted by federal prosecutors during the trial showed that he received more than $154,000 for his work for the Holy Land Foundation between 1996 and 2000. During the trial, FBI Special Agent Lara Burns testified that Mustapha also sang in a band sponsored by the Holy Land Foundation that regularly featured songs dedicated to killing Jews and glorifying Hamas. In a deposition he gave in a civil trial concerned with the murder of a Chicago teenager killed by Hamas while waiting for a bus in Israel, Mustapha admitted that he was the registered agent for the Holy Land Foundation in Illinois, and also to his involvement with other Hamas front groups, including the Islamic Association for Palestine. He was later hired as an imam by the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, which the Chicago Tribune reported in 2004 has long been a hotbed of Hamas support.
Twitter feeds and blogs tell hidden story of Mexico's drug wars
Excerpt: A small army of bloggers and tweeters is filling the gaps left by traditional media in Mexico that are increasingly limiting their coverage of the country's drug wars because of pressure from the cartels. "Shots fired by the river, unknown number of dead," read one recent tweet on a busy feed from the northern border city of Reynosa, #Reynosafollow. "Organized crime blockade on San Fernando road lifted," said another. "Just saw police officers telling a group of narcos about the positions of navy checkpoints," ran a third. Nothing of this kind appeared in the city's papers which, along with most media outlets in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, have become better known for what they do not publish than for what they do. Tamaulipas is one of the most intense battlegrounds of the drug wars being fought in Mexico between the federal forces and at least seven cartels.
Justice lawyer commits suicide
I wasn’t a fan of Stevens, but I thought a conviction that got him defeated, then the conviction was over-turned for misconduct after the election, was wrong. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Justice Department lawyer under investigation for possible misconduct in the prosecution of former senator Ted Stevens of Alaska committed suicide over the weekend, the law firm representing him confirmed….Marsh was among several lawyers on the Justice team that prosecuted Stevens, a Republican. Stevens was defeated in his reelection bid shortly after his 2008 conviction and died Aug. 9 in a plane crash in Alaska.
Household income plunged in 2009
If “Blame Bush” stops working, they’ll blame Hoover. Nothing to do with the Democrats, who took over Congress in January, 2007. ~Bob. Excerpt: Household incomes plunged for the second year in a row in 2009, as fewer families earned over $100,000 a year and the ranks of the poor rose, according to census statistics released Tuesday. Incomes are down about four percent since the recession began in December of 2007. That year, median household income was $52,384. Median household income last year was $50,221, down more than $1,500 from the median income of $51,726 that the Census Bureau reported for 2008. Almost one in five households--19.7 percent--reported incomes of $100,000 or more in 2009, the census reported.
Restoring America's Growth
Excerpt: The 2010 election fight is about uprooting Washington's antigrowth mindset regarding the role of federal government. If post-election Washington finds the backbone and procedures to spend less and return power to the people, their businesses and states, capital will rush back into the United States, providing the jobs and investment needed to compete globally. Many of the steps needed to strengthen the economy, create jobs and attract global capital are clear, says Forbes Magazine. Cut wasteful federal spending. With $3.8 trillion to choose from, the starting point should be such favorite pets as earmarks and the $6 billion annual ethanol subsidy. Cuts like this would likely pay America 10-to-1 through capital inflows as the United States improves its scorecard. Corporate tax reform. The U.S. has the second-highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. A lower rate on a broader base would significantly improve our scorecard. Small business credit. Washington has erected massive regulatory systems to channel capital from banks to Washington instead of to small businesses. Savers lose through the low interest rates paid by Treasury, banks lose in terms of lending skills and profit, and the nation loses when small businesses don't hire. Pension reform. The federal government has substantial influence on state and local pension systems through accounting rules, taxpayer subsidies and open-ended guarantees. State and local governments should be pushed to shift toward a federal-style 401(k) pension system. Also, current tax rates should be extended. This would encourage profit and new business innovation, adding investment and jobs, says Forbes.
Only trade-fuelled growth can help the world’s poor
Excerpt: But current experience and history both speak loudly that the only real engine of growth out of poverty is private business, and there is no evidence that aid fuels such growth. Of the eight goals, only the eighth faintly recognises private investment, through its call for a “non-discriminatory trading system”. This anodyne language refers to the scandal of rich countries perpetuating barriers that favour a tiny number of their businesses at the expense of impoverished millions elsewhere. Yet the trade-related MDG received virtually no attention from the wider campaign, has seen no action, and even its failure has received virtually no attention in the current MDG summit hoopla. This is all the more misguided because trade-fuelled growth not only decreases poverty, but also indirectly helps all the other MDGs. Yet in the US alone, the violations of the trade goal are legion. US consumers have long paid about twice the world price for sugar because of import quotas protecting about 9,000 domestic sugar producers. The European Union is similarly guilty. Equally egregious subsidies are handed out to US cotton producers, which flood the world market, depressing export prices. These hit the lowest-cost cotton producers in the global economy, which also happen to be some of the poorest nations on earth: Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. According to an Oxfam study, eliminating US cotton subsidies would “improve the welfare of over one million West African households - 10 million people - by increasing their incomes from cotton by 8 to 20 per cent”.
9/11 Commission chief: Obama hasn't made significant foreign policy progress
Excerpt: When it comes to foreign policy "not a lot of progress has been made" under President Obama, the Democratic co-chairman of the 9/11 commission said Monday. Former Rep. Lee Hamilton (Ind.), who remains a well-respected figure in foreign policy circles, cited North Korea's nuclear capabilities and Iran's nuclear ambitions while arguing that Obama still has much to accomplish.
Are Democrats really that out of touch?
Excerpt: Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s (D-Calif.) invitation to comedian Stephen Colbert to testify before a House subcommittee on immigration was particularly tone-deaf — but it doesn’t come as a surprise. Perhaps the biggest problem for Democrats this election season is not their legislative record, but their apparent disconnect from the values and primary concerns of the American public. A survey commissioned by the Independent Women’s Voice and conducted by Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen in mid-September found that 81 percent of independents say the federal government and Washington lawmakers are out of touch with Americans like themselves. And the recent episode with Colbert was a spectacular confirmation of that opinion. Inviting a comedian to poke fun at a critically important policy concern — one that affects our national and economic security — was not only inappropriate but also insulting to those whose lives are affected by immigration reform. Time after time, President Obama has shown he is out of step with the American public: His decision to send his daughters to an elite private school, while cutting the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program; his embrace of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; his fumbling of the Henry Louis Gates debacle last summer; first lady Michelle Obama’s lavish trip to Spain; his stumbling response to the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. The White House continually misreads the feelings and concerns of the public. And this disconnect and sense of elitism has been no less apparent in Congress, whose big-spending, big-government legislative agenda runs counter to the interests of the people they represent.
47 Dems call for freeze on investment taxes
They don’t mean it. Just pre-election jitters. Biz as usual November 3 if they get re-elected. ~Bob. Excerpt: Forty-seven House Democrats have signed a letter calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to extend the current tax rate on capital gains and dividends. "By keeping dividends and capital gains tax rates linked and low for everyone, we can help the private sector create jobs and allow seniors and middle-class households to save and invest more," the letter states. Under current law, beginning next year capital gains will be taxed at 20 percent while dividends will be taxed at ordinary income rates that go as high as 39.6 percent. The White House has called for placing a 20 percent tax on capital gains and dividends next year. However, pay-as-you-go rules stipulate that the cost for changing the dividend tax must have to be paid for -- unless Congress waives the rule.
Poor Immigrants: Asset or Burden?
Excerpt: America's fast-growing Latino population is famously hard working. It also has high rates for teenage pregnancy and dropping out of high school, two markers for poverty. Falling education levels should worry any country seeking to compete in the global economy. Are these poor immigrants "an asset or an albatross?" San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro provocatively asked the National Conference of Editorial Writers, meeting here in Dallas. One thing is undeniable: America is rapidly becoming more Hispanic, through both immigration and Latinos' higher birthrates. Such growth is fastest in the Southwest but happening everywhere. "By 2023, over 50 percent of children in America will be non-Anglo," former U.S. Census Bureau chief Steve Murdock also told the group. By 2050, over half of the labor force will be so-called minorities. ("Anglo" refers to most anyone who isn't Hispanic, black or Asian.) All the above belongs on the table for any honest discussion of U.S. immigration reform. The number-crunchers excel at spelling out the demographic realities now and in the likely future. What they don't do is determine whether these trends are good, for whom they are good and whether they should continue. That is for the American public to decide. And in wrestling with the issues, it would help to set aside both political correctness and racism. (My experience as an American citizen living in Los Angeles is that the immigrants here, whether legal or illegal, and the Latinos in particular, do not treat me or my country with dignity. When I first came to LA five years ago, I was really excited about it. I thought the mix of new cultures here was going to be fun. Now I know there is no mix. It is every man for himself here. This is the lawless Wild West all over again. But in those early, heady days, I was all for the illegals and believed there was room for all of us here. That was before I understood that the immigrants, and the Latinos in particular, both legal and illegal, have no room for me here, no room for Americans, no room for whites, no room for anyone who is not "one of them." I have been a very frequent witness to, in particular, the Hispanics' contempt for us and for our way of life. I am talking about Hispanics of all classes. It is not only the lower class illegals. These people do not govern themselves. They don't know what it means to govern one's self. We need to get all the illegals out now. –Kate. My high school classmate and a liberal—until she started collage late in life in L.A. ~Bob.)
Waiting for Superman: A Masterpiece of Moral Clarity
Excerpt: In an era when, in order to hold on to power and take control of our lives, the Left tells Big Lies just as quickly as they can make them up, along comes Guggenheim, an acknowledged pro-union liberal, to take on the most powerful, and in my opinion destructive, special interest group in America: the national teachers union. Whatever his personal beliefs were as he began the process of documenting the fate of five children whose very futures rest on the less-than 10% chance of being accepted into a charter school, in the end Guggenheim risks the grave sin of apostasy as he courageously bucks the left-wing narrative to present a heartbreaking and damning exposé of the American public school system. Had the exact same film been brought forth by a right-winger it would have had zero chance of creating any kind of national debate, much less change. But coming with Guggenheim’s clout and left-wing bona fides, there’s a chance his noble effort could spread a Road to Damascus virus among those who have for too long turned a blind eye towards an indefensibly immoral system propped up at the expense of children. Armed with facts and actual inconvenient truths, “Superman” deconstructs every lie told by politicians, union officials and bad teachers in defense of a status quo that destroys as many, if not more lives than drugs or gangs.
Education Reform’s Kryptonite
Excerpt: “It’s heartbreaking,” President Obama said about a scene in the new Waiting for Superman documentary. “And when you see these parents in the film, you are reminded that — I don’t care what people’s income levels are, you know, their stake in their kids, their wanting desperately to make sure their kids are able to succeed is so powerful, and it’s obviously difficult to watch to see these kids who know that this school’s going to give them a better chance, that that should depend on the bounce of a ball.” How can Obama possibly call this “heartbreaking” when one of his first acts as President was to snatch winning lottery spots from Washington, D.C. school children? Specifically, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent letters to 216 low-income families informing them that he was taking back the $7,500 in scholarship money that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program had previously awarded them. Yesterday on NBC’s TODAY Show, Obama admitted that daughters Sasha and Malia deserve better than D.C. public schools — that’s the reason he sends them to a tony private school with other Washington elites. So then why is Obama blocking other kids from the same opportunity? It would’ve been the logical follow-up question for Matt Lauer to ask. But just like the rest of NBC’s Education Nation series, Lauer let Obama off easy.
Obama: Democratic voter apathy 'inexcusable'
If they don’t show up, he won’t promise to be a god anymore. Agree with him that “change is hard.” It’s been damn hard on America so far. ~Bob. Excerpt: Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be "inexcusable" and "irresponsible" for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years. "People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up," Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and "if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place." The midterm elections are in five weeks and polling shows that Republicans, out of power at the White House and on Capitol Hill, have a much more excited base of supporters than Democrats. Obama, campaigning this week in four states, is in a sprint to restore the voter passion that helped him win office.
Building the next subprime crisis
Excerpt: President Obama and Democrats in Congress haven't moved to stop subprime lending -- they've just taken it over. They've created a federal subprime-lending monopoly by seizing control of the financial apparatus -- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration -- and lending 100 percent of the home price to borrowers who can't afford it. Private lenders can't make these loans -- they need to get paid back. On Sept. 9, I reported that Fannie had forged a subprime partnership with state housing-finance agencies called "Affordable Advantage": Fannie agreed to buy loans from housing-finance agencies for which the buyer puts down $1,000 or less -- in at least one case, just 67 cents. On Sept. 15, the House Government-Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee held a hearing on Fannie and Freddie. Since these two GSEs have cost the taxpayers $148 billion (so far), Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) took their regulator to task over Affordable Advantage. Edward J. DeMarco, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, sheepishly replied, "This one got away from us" and then promised "you won't be hearing about additional programs such as this." But DeMarco also testified that Fannie's contracts to buy these zero-down loans from HFAs don't expire until next March -- and he can't tell Fannie to stop. Baloney. Obama controls the GSEs -- they were seized by Bush and placed in federal conservatorship; Obama OK'd $42 million in bonuses for their top brass last Christmas. They're making subprime loans because the boss wants them to. (What they are doing is, as usual, buying votes with your grandkids’ money. ~Bob.)
Congress tussles over Dem dough
Excerpt: House and Senate Democrats are increasingly competing against one another over a small universe of deep-pocketed donors who could make a financial difference in the final stretch before the midterm elections. In some cases, donors report that they are being urged to fund Senate campaigns at the expense of the House, where Democrats are in danger of losing their majority. One House Democratic fundraiser said that some Senate operatives are telling big donors and union officials, “The House is lost; you have to save the Senate.” While top Senate Democrats insist they don’t use that line, some House strategists are playing their own angle. Their money pitch: House Democrats have worked overtime to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping agenda, parts of which have been stymied in the intractable Senate. The intense intraparty competition in the final weeks of the campaign shows that “everybody is frantically trying to raise money,” said Tony Podesta, a well-known Washington lobbyist and a top fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Five most competitive Senate races
Excerpt: The flurry of polls, ads and press releases can’t obscure the fact that the outlook for the Senate is beginning to harden. As the 2010 campaign winds toward its final month, Democrats look like they’ll need Hail Mary passes in states like Arkansas and Indiana. In Delaware, a ripe GOP pickup opportunity seems to have been scuttled. Elsewhere, consistent polling has formed a rough consensus about the direction of several races. Still, there is a set of Senate contests — marked by unpredictable candidates, razor-thin polling margins or a conflicted electorate — that seem destined to produce photo finishes on Election Day. With just five weeks left, here’s POLITICO’s list of the five most competitive Senate battles.
Harvard Pilgrim cancels Medicare Advantage plan
Excerpt: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage. The decision by Wellesley-based Harvard Pilgrim, the state’s second-largest health insurer, was prompted by a freeze in federal reimbursements and a new requirement that insurers offering the kind of product sold by Harvard Pilgrim — a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan — form a contracted network of doctors who agree to participate for a negotiated amount of money. Under current rules, patients can seek care from any doctor. (But ObamaCare will increase coverage, reduce the deficit and lower healthcare costs, while providing more benefits and allowing everyone to keep the coverage they have. BO promised. Biggest lie since “the Check is in the Mail. ~Bob.)
Drones Target Terror Plot
Excerpt: In an effort to foil a suspected terrorist plot against European targets, the Central Intelligence Agency has ramped up missile strikes against militants in Pakistan's tribal regions, current and former officials say. The strikes, launched from unmanned drone aircraft, represent a rare use of the CIA's drone campaign to preempt a possible attack on the West. The terror plot, which officials have been tracking for weeks, is believed to target multiple countries, including the U.K., France, and Germany, these officials said. The exact nature of the plot or plots couldn't be learned immediately, and counterterrorism officials in the U.S., Pakistan and Europe are continuing to investigate. There have, however, been multiple terror warnings in recent days in France, Germany and the U.K. "There are some pretty notable threat streams," said one U.S. military official, who added that the significance of these threats is still being discussed among counterterrorism officials but that threats of this height are unusual. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to discuss the current European terrorism intelligence with her European counterparts at a U.N. aviation security meeting this week in Montreal. "We are in constant contact with our colleagues abroad," she told a Senate panel last week. "We are all seeing increased activity by a more diverse set of groups and a more diverse set of threats. That activity, much of which is Islamist in nature, is directed at the West generally." (OMG, Napolitano said "Islamist." Now, won't they have to flog her or something? Ron P. They’ll just cut off her white wine and Brie for a week. ~Bob.)
The Kennedy-Nixon Debates: JFK Lied, Cubans Died
Excerpt: Nothing of the sort, we’re given to understand, marred those heady and substantive debates of yore. Take Kennedy’s claim that President Eisenhower had fallen asleep (or gone golfing) during his command and allowed a perilous “missile gap” to grow between the U.S. and the Soviets. In fact a huge gap had grown (roughly six thousand for us, three hundred for the Soviets) Might this qualify as an “outrageous claim” by Kennedy? Not if your source is Ted Sorensen and the New York Times. In fact, prior to the debates, CIA director Allen Dulles had briefed Kennedy on the genuine missile numbers. But rather than respond to this genuinely outrageous claim, Nixon bit his tongue. Disclosing the real number (that JFK knew perfectly well) in public would alert the Soviets to how we got their number, and jeopardize U.S. national security. Which is to say, to blindside his Republican opponent Kennedy relied on that opponent's patriotism. Let's face it, Republicans are at a woeful disadvantage here. "The Republicans have allowed a communist dictatorship to flourish eight jet minutes from our borders!” Kennedy charged during the second debate. “We must support anti-Castro fighters. So far these freedom fighters have received no help from our government." Here again JFK’s “extremist rhetoric,” was a pre-meditated lie. Unlike the John Lovitz character on "Saturday Night Live," JFK lied expertly, with a straight face.
White Women Dump the Dems
Excerpt: Downcast Democrats have generated a boomlet of optimism in the last few days. Last week’s Gallup results put the Dems an amazing one point ahead on who voters would prefer generically for Congress—the second such showing in the last three weeks, indicating they’re not dead yet. The New York Times ran an article about how the Democrats have a fundraising edge in some tight races. And on Thursday, the Democrats released a bunch of internal polls which purport to show that they can defend their control of Congress. This despite the steady drumbeat of polls showing that their 2008 miracle voters—the young and the nonwhite—are so not interested in picking the Congress as they were in picking the president. I hate to be a (Democratic) party pooper, but here’s the next piece of bad news. Guess who’s not coming out to vote? White women. The enthusiasm among all women is down, but Gallup shows that white women are the least enthusiastic of all the major demographic groups.
Pakistan and the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan
Excerpt: It is interesting to reflect on the institutional inevitability of these disagreements. The military is involved in a war. It is institutionally and emotionally committed to victory in the theater of combat. It will demand all available resources for executing the war under way. For a soldier who has bled in that war, questioning the importance of the war is obscene. A war must be fought relentlessly and with all available means. But while the military’s top generals and senior civilian leadership are responsible for providing the president with sound, clearheaded advice on all military matters including the highest levels of grand strategy, they are ultimately responsible for the pursuit of military objectives to which the commander-in-chief directs them. Generals must think about how to win the war they are fighting. Presidents must think about whether the war is worth fighting. The president is responsible for America’s global posture. He must consider what an unlimited commitment to a particular conflict might mean in other regions of the world where forces would be unavailable. A president must take a more dispassionate view than his generals. He must calculate not only whether victory is possible but also the value of the victory relative to the cost. Given the nature of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus — first the U.S. Central Command chief and now the top commander in Afghanistan — had to view it differently. This is unavoidable. This is natural. And only one of the two is ultimately in charge.
Mark Tapscott: Loads of campaign cash make Big Green a Democratic powerhouse
Excerpt: Officials of a dozen top Big Green environmental groups contributed more than $14.5 million to congressional and presidential candidates in 2008 and through the second quarter of 2010 with 96 percent of the total going to Democrats, according to an Examiner analysis of federal campaign data. The data was compiled from the Federal Election Commission and included only donations by individuals who listed one of the 12 groups as their employer or listed themselves as an officer or director of one or more of the groups. This analysis does not include contributions by individuals who did not list an employer. The groups included the Audubon Society, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, the Environmental Defense Action Fund, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Ocean Champions, Sierra Club, the Trust for Public Land and the Wilderness Society. (Part two of five parts. At the end of the piece is a link to a related article at PajamasMedia. Ron P. With Al Gore raking in over $100M from his global Warming gig, you’d think he’d share with fellow statists. ~Bob.)
The "Islamophobia" Weapon
Excerpt: It is not at all established that “Islamophobia” really is growing. In fact, the FBI has recently released data establishing that hate crimes against Muslims are comparatively rare. But if there is any actual suspicion of or negative feelings toward Muslims in the United States, it is solely and wholly the responsibility of Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadist; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas underwear jihadist; Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who killed one soldier and murdered another in a jihad shooting outside a military recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark.; Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square jihadist; Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden on 9/11; the London jihad bombers of July 7, 2005; and so many others. Yet Ihsanoglu, with an evasion of responsibility that is characteristic of Islamic supremacists, pretends that non-Muslims are growing more suspicious of Muslims and Islam not because of this, but because of some gratuitous bigotry. This is a tried and tested tactic, designed precisely to divert attention from Islamic jihad attacks and to shame and discredit those who would dare stand up to jihad (both violent and stealth) and Islamic supremacism in the West. Without any reference to the pandemic of jihad violence either in the U.S. or worldwide, Ihsanoglu referred instead to a “pandemic of Islam vilification” in the U.S. and Europe, and declared: “We need an all inclusive effort of OIC member states to stem this menace. That is why I firmly believe that this question of Islamophobia should figure prominently on the agenda of all OIC member states whenever they deal with their Western counterparts.” What Ihsanoglu and the OIC want Western states to do is limit the freedom of speech regarding Islam and jihad. In 2008 he issued a dictatorial warning: “We sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed” regarding free speech about Islam and terrorism. And he reported success: “The official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.” Since then he has encountered success beyond his wildest dreams, for the Obama Administration has extended and broadened the Bush policy of refraining from speaking about Islam and jihad in connection with acts of Islamic jihad terrorism. The absurdity of this policy reached its apex with the official report on the Fort Hood massacre, which blithely ignored Nidal Hasan’s clear, public, and repeated adherence to Islamic jihad doctrine, his cries of “Allahu akbar” as he committed his murders, and his passing out of Korans on the morning of his massacre.
Extremists in Sweden ride immigration wave
“Extremists” is media code for “Anti-jihadists” “Islamophobic” is code for “Supports Freedom of Speech and Religion, opposes terrorism.” ~Bob. Excerpt: In a seismic upheaval in Swedish politics, an extreme-right movement accused of being Islamophobic has won seats in the country's Parliament, observers say. Election victories by the Sweden Democrats, a party widely denounced as "racist and neo-Nazi," have probably saddled the country with a fragile minority government, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported.
He's not that Isaac Hayes, and people are starting to notice
A black conservative in Chicago, with the guys to run against Jesse Jackson, Jr., who got rich when his father race hustled Budweiser for his kids to get distributorships. ~Bob. Excerpt: I asked Hayes: How difficult is it being an African-American conservative in a district where the Jackson family machine is so dominant? "It's difficult if you're not willing to speak up about what you believe," Hayes said. "If you're weak, you wouldn't want to do it. It's my opinion that black conservatives have to have strong character. The easy smear is when you're called a traitor to your race, or an Uncle Tom. That happens a lot. "But just look at what's happened to the black community over the decades. Look at the family. Look at the lack of economic opportunity," he said. "These problems are in part because of liberal Democratic policies. But people like me get smeared as race traitors for not being liberal Democrats? That's ironic. But that's not why the media is interested in me." Reporters are now interested in Hayes because Jackson — a child of privilege who has always been about as deep as a teaspoon — has been weakened.
A sermon so very fitted to today
A sermon from a prominent rabbi to his congregation, but the message applies to us all. Not super short, but that's because it's a thorough description of history and how it relates to the present. –Del. Excerpt: I get it, but as a rabbi I have a compelling obligation, a responsibility to articulate what is in my heart and what I passionately believe must be said and must be heard. And so, I am guided not by what is easy to say but by what is painful to express. I am guided not by the frivolous but by the serious. I am guided not by delicacy but by urgency. We are at war. We are at war with an enemy as savage, as voracious, as heartless as the Nazis but one wouldn’t know it from our behavior. During WWII we didn’t refer to storm troopers as freedom fighters. We didn’t call the Gestapo, militants. We didn’t see the attacks on our Merchant Marine as acts by rogue sailors. We did not justify the Nazis rise to power as our fault. We did not grovel before the Nazis, thumping our hearts and confessing to abusing and mistreating and humiliating the German people. We did not apologize for Dresden, nor for The Battle of the Bulge, nor for El Alamein, nor for D-Day. Evil – ultimate, irreconcilable, evil threatened us and Roosevelt and Churchill had moral clarity and an exquisite understanding of what was at stake. It was not just the Sudetenland, not just Tubruk, not just Vienna, not just Casablanca. It was the entire planet. Read history and be shocked at how frighteningly close Hitler came to creating a Pax Germana on every continent. Not all Germans were Nazis – most were decent, most were revolted by the Third Reich, most were good citizens hoisting a beer, earning a living and tucking in their children at night. But, too many looked away, too many cried out in lame defense – I didn’t know.” Too many were silent. Guilt absolutely falls upon those who committed the atrocities, but responsibility and guilt falls upon those who did nothing as well. Fault was not just with the goose steppers but with those who pulled the curtains shut, said and did nothing. In WWII we won because we got it. We understood who the enemy was and we knew that the end had to be unconditional and absolute. We did not stumble around worrying about offending the Nazis. We did not measure every word so as not to upset our foe. We built planes and tanks and battleships and went to war to win….. to rid the world of malevolence. We are at war… yet too many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers. We are circumspect and disgracefully politically correct. Let me mince no words in saying that from Fort Hood to Bali, from Times Square to London, from Madrid to Mumbai, from 9/11 to Gaza, the murderers, the barbarians are radical Islamists. To camouflage their identity is sedition. To excuse their deeds is contemptible. To mask their intentions is unconscionable.
Marines are changed by Afghan mission
Excerpt: Matt Garst earned the nickname "The Unbreakable Marine" during the campaign to pacify the area around the town of Marja. Garst, a corporal with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, was leading a squad to establish a checkpoint in late June when he moved into an abandoned compound where his squad could set up an observation post. That's when the world erupted in a shattering explosion. "I knew I'd hit an [improvised explosive device]," Garst said. Those around watched as the 6-foot-2 squad leader was hurtled more than 10 feet into the air. He was knocked out briefly upon hitting the ground. "I was pissed, but I was fine," Garst recalled. "I refused to be [evacuated]. I patrolled back with the guys and remember thinking, 'I hope I find the Taliban who did this so I can kill him.'?" It was a day in late July when U.S. Marine Cpl. Shelton Persons first realized the particular kind of hell his unit was facing as it patrolled near Marja. Persons -- of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment -- and 14 fellow Marines were moving along one side of a narrow river when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He saw a bush across the river moving. Then a figure pulled a triggering device, and a deafening explosion shook the ground. The Marines survived intact but with a new appreciation for the perils of the area. "It feels like you're the new kid in school and you've got that eerie sketchy feeling that you're being watched all the time and you don't want to be there," said the young Marine, whose wife, Sarah Marie Persons, is expecting their second child in January. "Nothing feels right in that city. We're fighting to win over the people in the city while we're fighting the Taliban at the same time. Sometimes it all blends together."
DSCC spends another $165,000 against…O’Donnell?
Excerpt: Republican Christine O’Donnell claims to have raised $2.6 million in her longshot race to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate. The DSCC evidently believes that she must be taken seriously. They’ve just purchased another $165,000 in airtime against her, according to FEC reports, bringing their total so far to $272,000. So if you count Delaware, Pennsylvania ($3M), and Missouri ($1.5M), the DSCC has split about two-thirds of its expenditures so far between races it probably cannot win and races it supposedly cannot lose.
Emanuel’s pot of green gold is called Exelon
Excerpt: President Obama’s White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is notorious for the maxim: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” If you’ve opened a newspaper or turned on the television any time in the last decade, you’ve no doubt seen someone trying to convince you that there is no bigger crisis than global warming. Lots of people have seen it as an opportunity to profit. One of those people is Emanuel. While working at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella, Emanuel helped put together the merger between Chicago utility company Unicom and Philadelphia utility Peco to create a mega-utility known as Exelon Corporation. Emanuel made $16.2 million during the two years he worked at Wasserstein Perella, and the Exelon merger was his biggest deal. White House strategist David Axelrod also has done consulting work for Exelon. Shortly after Exelon was created, the company sold off most of its coal-powered energy plants in order to concentrate on its 17 nuclear reactors. But building new nuclear energy plants is extraordinarily costly, so it’s not exactly a growth industry. So as big corporations often do, Exelon officials hatched an unusual plan to use government to make their company more profitable: leverage fears about global warming to help federal politicians and bureaucrats hamstring Exelon’s rivals through Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade anti-global warming program. Since nuclear plants put out mostly water vapor, Exelon recognized that its carbon-producing competitors would have to cope with the huge new tax and regulatory burdens sure to come if Obama’s proposal became law. The competitors would pass their higher operating costs to consumers in the form of higher prices.
The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America
Excerpt: In March 2009, British conservative Daniel Hannan became a celebrity overnight when he assailed prime minister Gordon Brown on the floor of the European Parliament. The YouTube clip went viral, leading to whirlwind appearances on FOX News and other conservative media outlets. A thoughtful and articulate spokesman for conservative ideas, Hannan is better versed in America’s traditions and founding documents than many Americans are. In The New Road to Serfdom, Hannan argues forcefully and passionately that Americans must not allow Barack Obama to take them down the road to European Union–style social democracy. He pleads with Americans not to abandon the founding principles that have made their country a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world.