Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Political Digest September 8, 2010

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

Daley won't run for re-election: 'I have done my best'
What honest person would want the job, the mess that is Chicago? ~Bob. Excerpt: Mayor Richard Daley says he will not run for re-election in 2011, saying it's "time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on." "The truth is I have been thinking about this for the past several months," Daley said at a City Hall news conference that stunned the city. "In the end this is a personal decision, no more, no less."

Important: Political Fables by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: President Barack Obama boldly proclaims, "The buck stops here!" But, whenever his policies are criticized, he acts as if the buck stopped with George W. Bush.
The party line that we are likely to be hearing from now until the November elections is that Obama "inherited" the big federal budget deficits and that he has to "clean up the mess" left in the economy by the Republicans. This may convince those who want to be convinced, but it will not stand up under scrutiny. No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress before Barack Obama became president. The deficit he inherited was created by the Congressional Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who did absolutely nothing to oppose the runaway spending. He was one of the biggest of the big spenders. The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, Bill Clinton was president, so it was called "the Clinton surplus." But Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, for the first time in 40 years. It was also the first budget surplus in more than a quarter of a century. The only direct power that any president has that can affect deficits and surpluses is the power to veto spending bills. President Bush did not veto enough spending bills but Senator Obama and his fellow Democrats in control of Congress were the ones who passed the spending bills.

Republicans making gains against Democrats ahead of midterm elections
Excerpt: Republicans are heading into the final weeks of the midterm campaign with the political climate highly in their favor, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Americans are increasingly frustrated by a lack of economic progress, deeply dissatisfied with the federal government and critical of President Obama's leadership. For the first time in more than four years, Republicans run about evenly with Democrats on the basic question of which party they trust to handle the nation's biggest problems. Among registered voters, 40 percent say they have more confidence in Democrats and 38 percent say they have more trust in Republicans. Three months ago, Democrats had a 12-point advantage. On the economy, 43 percent of voters side with Republicans when it comes to dealing with financial problems, while 39 percent favor Democrats. (Fifteen percent say they trust neither party more.) Although not a significant lead for Republicans, this marks the first time they have had any numerical edge on the economy dating to 2002. In recent years, Democrats have typically held double-digit advantages on the issue. (Counteth not yon chickens yet…. ~Bob.)

Stu Rothenberg predicts 37-42 House seat gain for GOP
Excerpt: For the second time in as many weeks, a top House handicapper is predicting the possibility that Republicans will regain the majority even as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll points to a deteriorating national political environment for Democrats. Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, upped his prediction of Republican gains to 37 to 42 seats -- right on the cusp of the 39 seats that the GOP need to pickup to retake the majority. Rothenberg noted that "substantially larger" Republican gains -- between 45 and 55 seats -- are "quite possible". Rothenberg had previously pegged Republicans gains between 28 and 33 seats. Last week University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato pegged Republican gains at 47 seats while Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report, has put GOP seat gains at a minimum of 35. Rothenberg's prediction lands on the same day that the new Post/ABC poll paints a grim picture of the national landscape for Democrats. Forty-six percent approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing while 52 percent disapprove. Those numbers are worse when it comes to Obama's handling of the economy with just 41 percent offering approval and 57 percent disapproving. On the Congressional level, Republicans hold a narrow two-point edge on the generic ballot among registered voters but that gap widens to thirteen points when only likely voters are tested.

How the House would be won
Excerpt: With both parties in agreement that House control is in play this fall, buoyant Republicans are assembling their roster of targeted districts and worried Democrats are building bunkers to protect their majority. Privately, Democrats are steeling for a loss of at least 25 seats. For Republicans, the expectations are much higher after an August recess that improved GOP prospects — some are already envisioning a 1994-like wave, when Republicans picked up 52 seats. But whether Nov. 2 is a good night for Republicans, a great night or even a historic one will depend on how close they come to winning the 39 seats necessary to win control of the House. And their success is contingent on how deeply the party can cut into several distinct classes of Democratic-held seats. To get to that 39-seat magic number — which, in reality, is probably somewhere in the low 40s because of the likelihood of a few GOP-held seats being lost — Republicans will need to win dozens of Democratic seats that feature varying degrees of difficulty.

Unlikely battleground of Wisconsin reflects Democrats' vulnerability in midterm elections
Excerpt: Democrats in Congress are no longer asking themselves whether this is going to be a bad election year for them and their party. They are asking whether it is going to be a disaster. The answer will probably be found in states such as Wisconsin, one of a growing number of spots on the map where Democrats accustomed to winning reelection with ease - including Sen. Russell Feingold - are unexpectedly in trouble. The GOP pushed deep into Democratic-held territory over the summer, to the point where the party is well within range of picking up the 39 seats it would need to take control of the House. Overall, as many as 80 House seats could be at risk, and fewer than a dozen of these are held by Republicans. Political handicappers now say it is conceivable that the Republicans could also win the 10 seats they need to take back the Senate. Not since 1930 has the House changed hands without the Senate following suit.

At least 70 House seats in play, says Obama's campaign adviser
Excerpt: President Obama's top political guru said Tuesday that he believes 70 House races and 15 Senate races are in play this fall. White House senior adviser David Plouffe — Obama's 2008 presidential campaign manager — said that a bevy of races were in play, from the national to local level. "There are a lot of competitive races out there. There's going to be at least 70 House races in play, about 15 competitive Senate races, a couple dozen tough gubernatorial races," he said in a video to supporters of Organizing for America, the president's political arm. Plouffe painted a picture of a dire electoral landscape in which, if Democrats were to lose the majority of those races, their losses would be massive. The Democratic political guru encouraged party members to get out the vote this fall by helping to volunteer, and focus in particular on turning out first-time voters who supported Obama in 2008.

25 Reasons to Send the Democrats Packing in November
Excerpt: 1) Remember the stimulus bill? Republicans strongly opposed it and said it wouldn't work. Democrats said it would revive the economy and keep unemployment under 8 percent. So, what happened? Democrats shoved through a bill that cost $1.1 trillion when you add in the interest. It cost more than the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, and putting a man on the moon -- combined. The result? The economy didn't take off, the unemployment rate is still at 9.6 percent, and Democrats are calling guessed it, another stimulus bill.

Regulators to hash out major new finance regulations this month
Be interesting to see how the markets react to the new rules. ~Bob. Excerpt: Financial regulators are set this month for a series of crucial meetings and decisions as they hash out major new U.S. and international rules that might govern the financial world for years to come. And as they convene in Washington and Basel, Switzerland, regulators from around the world are coming under heavy lobbying pressure by the financial industry not to overreach while the global economy remains weak. In the United States, regulators are starting to lay out how they will oversee "systemic risk" and firms deemed "too big to fail." The Obama administration is also facing pressure from Democrats and consumer advocates to quickly nominate the first head of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created as part of the Wall Street reform bill.

Lawyer: Iran woman could be stoned to death soon
Excerpt: The lawyer for an Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned on an adultery conviction said Monday that he and her children are worried the delayed execution could be carried out soon with the end of a moratorium on death sentences for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In an unusual turn in the case, the lawyer also confirmed that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was lashed 99 times last week in a separate punishment meted out because a British newspaper ran a picture of an unveiled woman mistakenly identified as her. Under Iran's clerical rule, women must cover their hair in public. The newspaper later apologized for the error. With the end of Ramadan this week, the mother of two could be executed "any moment," said her lawyer, Javid Houtan Kian. (The beauty of Shari’a law, proclaimed by Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. ~Bob.)

Free Exercise of Religion? No, Thanks.
Excerpt: Now to Islam. It is, first, a religion that makes very large claims for itself, purporting to be the last and final word of God and expressing an ambition to become the world's only religion. Some of its adherents follow or advocate the practice of plural marriage, forced marriage, female circumcision, compulsory veiling of women, and censorship of non-Muslim magazines and media. Islam's teachings generally exhibit suspicion of the very idea of church-state separation. Other teachings, depending on context, can be held to exhibit a very strong dislike of other religions, as well as of heretical forms of Islam. Muslims in America, including members of the armed forces, have already been found willing to respond to orders issued by foreign terrorist organizations. Most disturbingly, no authority within the faith appears to have the power to rule decisively that such practices, or such teachings, or such actions, are definitely and utterly in conflict with the precepts of the religion itself. Reactions from even "moderate" Muslims to criticism are not uniformly reassuring. "Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s," Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness.

Senior Iranian cleric dismisses Nazi Holocaust as 'superstition'
Excerpt: A senior Iranian cleric has dismissed the Nazi Holocaust during World War II as a 'superstition' created by the West. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi - among the highest authorities in Shiite Islam - said in reports released yesterday. 'The Holocaust is nothing but superstition, but Zionists say that people of the world should be forced to accept this,' he was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA. 'Americans and Westerners are affected by newly appeared superstitions such as the Holocaust.'

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Discrimination in aid: incidents and testimonies
Excerpt: There have been a long list of cases reported to Fides on discrimination against Christians, religious minorities, Dalits, the poorest of the poor in humanitarian aid distribution. "The general framework of social and religious discrimination in Pakistan becomes more despicable at this stage and pollutes solidarity," notes a source of Fides. There is growing anger among the refugees and this past Thursday, in the city of Hyderabad, many participated in a protest march for the mistreatment of religious minorities. Humanitarian agencies and NGOs working in Pakistan have told Fides that in the Thatta district, heavily flooded in recent days, many Christian families have been denied aid, even from government officials. (A form of ethnic cleansing. ~Bob.)

Indonesian Islamic supremacists threaten retaliation for Florida Qur'an-burning
Excerpt: This church's plan to burn the Qur'an on September 11 is stupid; I disapprove of it and of many other things about the pastor, the church, and the church's approach to the jihad threat. I don't support the burning of books; it's tactically stupid, as it will make the mainstream media portray the church as a bunch of Nazis, and it's wrong in principle: the antidote to bad speech is not censorship or book-burning, but more speech. Open discussion. Give-and-take. And the truth will out. There is no justification for burning books. Marisol's comments here are apposite: "'International Burn a Koran Day' does a grave disservice to the cause of spreading awareness about Islamic teachings and the threat that Sharia poses to our way of life. It is a gift to Islamic groups who would so dearly love to portray all of us who criticize and question Islamic teachings (and triumphalist mosques) as frothing reactionaries." Pamela Geller puts it best: "Islamic supremacists can't whine about 'insensitivity' while planning to erect a 15-story mega mosque on Ground Zero." And the people who are burning the Qur'an on the 11th are, by doing so, placing themselves in much greater physical danger than Muslims are experiencing in this country, despite the recent spate of handwringing articles about a rise of "Islamophobia" and Muslims living in fear. As obnoxious as they may be, they deserve the protections that any American citizen deserves. American authorities should once again stand up for freedom, even if people are using that freedom in a manner of which they disapprove, and against Islamic supremacist intimidation. (Stupid. If it gets members of the church killed, tough. But it may get American troops killed. ~Bob)

Deadly Deceit
Excerpt: The anti-mosque rally at Ground Zero held in New York City on Sunday, August 22 brought over 12,000 Americans to lower Manhattan. They gathered to express their opposition to the building of a mosque next to the site where the World Trade Center towers once stood. To the thousands of men and women assembled, including family members and friends of the 3000 victims of the 9/11 attacks, it was a grassroots expression of outrage at the audacity of Islamists and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to refuse to consider another location for the mosque. Americans who are familiar with Islamic history understand the significance of the initial choice to name the Islamic community center/mosque the Cordoba House. They correctly understand that this as an expression of Islamic triumphalism. Cordoba was the seat of the caliphate established in what is now modern Spain after the Islamic invasion from North Africa in the 8th century C.E. The medieval occupation of Spain – “al-Andalus” – is considered by Islamic theorists to have been an inevitable step in the manifest destiny of Islam. The mosque was built to celebrate the victory of Muslims over the Spanish “infidels.” The eventual Muslim military reversals during the lengthy Spanish Catholic “Reconquista” are still considered a tragic but temporary triumph of the infidels. The great mosque in Cordoba was built on the foundation of a Christian cathedral, and when the Spanish retook Cordoba in the 13th century, they turned the magnificent mosque back into a cathedral. No longer a church, today the structure is called La-Mezquita or “The Mosque.”

Racial violence changes student _ and school
Excerpt: Fueled by rumors, a group of students roamed the halls searching for Asian victims until one was attacked in a classroom. Later, about 70 students stormed the cafeteria, where several Asians were beaten. About 35 students pushed past a police officer onto the so-called "Asian floor," but were turned back. After school, Asians being escorted home were attacked anyway by a mob of youths. Almost all the attackers were black - but few observers believe the violence was due to racial hatred. Instead, they cite isolation of different groups within the school, certain students' warped "gangster" values, and for some, simmering resentments over perceived benefits for Asian students. About 30 Asians were injured that day; seven went to hospitals. Past attacks had been reported to administrators and police, but students say nothing seemed to change. (So let’s see. Tea Party people complain about the policies of President Obama—that’s racist. Black students at a predominantly black high school hunt down and beat Asian students, because the Asian do better than them, that’s not based on racial hatred? How about if white students beat black students? Asian do better than blacks or whites because they come from a culture that values education. Inner city blacks come from a culture that denigrates education as “acting white.” The beauty of multiculturalism which sees all cultures as equally valid, even those that mire their members in poverty and violence. ~Bob.)

The Face of Eco-Terrorism
Excerpt: There’s no doubt that Discovery Channel gunman James Jay Lee was mentally unstable, but it should be equally clear that Lee is far from the first person – and surely not the last – to take their cues from an environmental movement that grows more delusional with each passing day. Does that mean that we should blame Al Gore for Lee’s actions and death? No. Gore is far too savvy a huckster to endanger the green gold-mine that he helped create by encouraging violence among his followers. He would much prefer that the James Jay Lees of the world save the planet by making a substantial purchase of carbon credits on the CCX. That said, Gore, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and all the rest of today’s self-proclaimed environmental champions surely share the blame for creating the atmosphere of fear and dread that permeates America’s attitude about our relationship with nature. It is the misguided notion that human beings are an infection on planet Earth, a feeling shared by millions of Americans, that provided James Jay Lee with an outlet for his paranoid delusions, just as it did for Ted Kaczynski thirty years ago. Environmental advocates have continually upped the ante when it comes to doomsday rhetoric, to the point that they are now “all in.” They have progressed from the bird extinction delusions that Rachel Carson chronicled in Silent Spring to a crisis they claim is so acute, so immediate, that all forms of life on earth are in grave danger. Is it any wonder that some people might take them at their word and act accordingly? A mentally unstable man like James Jay Lee wielding a bomb might grab the spotlight for a few days, but he is hardly the only example of someone taking the Green movement’s message to its logical and extreme conclusions.

We Are Ruled by Professors
Excerpt: I have some experience in academia: I spent 3 years at UC Santa Cruz, graduating in classics, two more, graduate and undergraduate, in formal study in Athens, at the College Year in Athens and the American School of Classical Studies, four at Stanford University for a PhD in classics, and then a 21-year stint as a professor at California State University Fresno. I farmed before, during, and after the university tenures. I can’t count my current life at the Hoover Institution or my month of teaching each year at Hillsdale College as quite the same experience. Both, after all, are aberrant academic institutions — in the sense that the faculties and mission of these institutions resemble pretty much those of America off campus. (I have never met more sane people than at both places.) The farm and the life with it were great gifts from my ancestors. Almost every weekend as an undergraduate and graduate student, and then nightly as a classics professor, I returned to the farm. People in the environs there were not hostile to learning; they just assumed that being a professor or writer was, and should be, not any different from welding or tractor driving. So what did I learn in the university? I’ll try to be a bit less specific than I was in Who Killed Homer? written over a decade ago. First was the false knowledge — odd for an institution devoted to free inquiry. The university runs like a 13th-century church in which the heliocentric maverick is a mortal sinner. So too on campus the Rosenbergs never spied. Alger Hiss was a martyr. Mao killed only a few who needed killing (see Anita Dunn on that one). Che was not a murderous thug, but a hair-in-the-wind carefree motorcyclist. Minorities supposedly died proportionally higher in Vietnam — as they supposedly do now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women are underrepresented as both undergraduates and as humanities graduate students. Anyone with an accented name obviously had picked grapes or was denied voting rights. Adlai Stevenson was an American saint, even more so than George McGovern. Only the unhinged even discussed doubts about global warming. Don’t question any of the above; it was all gospel.... (One of the major reasons I have no children of my own is that my professors fed me The Population Bomb, with predictions of massive famine and the exhaustion of strategic minerals by the 1990s, as gospel, and I didn’t want to contribute. Of course, none of it came true, and the danger to civilization now is the collapse of western birth rates. Why I’m so skeptical of global warming—I’ve been burned on the “settled science” before. ~Bob.)

Why we miss Bush
Excerpt: Various polls report that George W. Bush in some states is now better liked than President Obama. Even some liberal pundits call for Bush to weigh in on the Ground Zero mosque or the Arizona anti-immigration legislation. Suddenly, Bush is missed. Why? Let me list 10 likely reasons.

An Afghan 'Revolution' in the Making?
Excerpt: Afghanistan’s democratic opposition—a loosely affiliated but increasingly unified group of former Northern alliance fighters and politicians, Western-educated technocrats, businesspeople and military men—is facing a stalemate in what looks more and more like the Afghan endgame. Last week, I met with three of the key players: Ahmad Wali Masoud, the former Afghan Ambassador to Britain, and one of the six brothers of the slain Afghan legend Ahmad Shah Massoud; last year’s presidential challenger Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and deposed internal security chief Amrullah Saleh. Since then, there have been several significant events in Kabul—not only did we see the unraveling of the Kabul Bank but it was also “Martyr’s Week,” commemorating the dead among the Afghan armed forces, as well as the end to Ramadan. And events are moving so quickly here—think of the dissolving dreamscapes of Inception—that while Masoud, Abdullah and Saleh were all maintaining some distance on August 31, four days later, I was told, Saleh pledged his loyalty to Abdullah, and the following day, the three made a joint appearance at Kabul Education University. At a time when the relationship between Karzai and the U.S. administration appears to have strained to a near-breaking point, and words such as “revolution” are suddenly cropping up in conversation, we should pay attention. While the men are very different—Masoud is genial and full of smiles, Abdullah has gravitas, and Saleh is all coruscating brilliance—the three spoke with surprising unanimity about the situation as they saw it, placing the lion’s share of blame for the deteriorating situation on the Americans and their focus on empowering one man, Hamid Karzai, rather than creating a sustainable, robust political system.

Obama's Foreign Policy Has Failed
A view from the left. --Ron P. Excerpt: Just over three years ago, acclaimed author and campaign adviser Samantha Power published a memo outlining the foreign policy Barack Obama would pursue if elected president. It was called “Conventional Washington versus the Change We Need.” Power’s argument—aimed straight at then-candidate Hillary Clinton—was that merely replacing George W. Bush with a Democrat would not truly change American foreign policy. It would not truly change American foreign policy because many of Bush’s policies had been supported by “the foreign-policy establishment of both parties,” which remained enthralled to a “bankrupt conventional wisdom.” Obama, she suggested, offered something different. As with his opposition to the Iraq War, he would offer “fresh strategic thinking” undeterred by charges that he was “weak, inexperienced, and even naive.” He represented “a break from a broken way of doing things.” Three years later, measured by the criteria Power laid out, Obama’s foreign policy has failed. The failure started soon after Obama’s election, when he assembled a foreign-policy team—led by Hillary Clinton herself—drawn from the very “foreign-policy establishment” that Power derided. The people Obama has installed in key positions are smart, earnest, and hard-working, but they lack exactly the quality that Power promised would define his foreign policy: a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, even when it entails political risks. To the contrary, the foreign-policy wonks who did stake out provocative positions—Robert Malley, for instance, who incurred the wrath of the “pro-Israel” establishment for questioning U.S. policy toward Hamas, or Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon, who incurred the wrath of the liberal blogosphere for supporting the Iraq surge—did not get jobs. The people who did are, for the most part, foreign-policy versions of Elena Kagan: ambitious, talented people who have never publicly espoused a truly controversial opinion about anything.

Iran on brink of nuclear weapon, warns watchdog
Excerpt: Iran has passed a crucial nuclear threshold, weapons inspectors have warned, and could now go on to arm an atomic missile with relative ease. A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iranian nuclear scientists had made at least 22 kilograms of enriched uranium at least 20 per cent purity, a technical hurdle that is the hardest to overcome on the way to weapons-grade uranium. Experts estimate that 20 kgs of uranium is the minimum required to arm a warhead. The uranium would still need to have its purity raised to 90 per cent, but that is a relatively easy process. The agency's report comes in spite of the recent imposition at the United Nations of a fresh round of sanctions against Iran and will heighten fears of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear plants. The prospect of an attack had receded only recently with American assurances that Tehran was more than a year away from acquiring a bomb. (So here's the bad news. These nutballs will have nukes sometime in the reasonably near future, and that will change all the politics in the Middle East instantly, and not in a good way. Actually, I'm not at all sure of how things will go exactly, but there's no question it won't be in any positive direction. This is the equivalent of Hitler marching into the Rhineland and nobody did anything then, nobody is doing anything now. But it was the beginning of some very bad times. –Del)

The Answer Is 'No'
Short, but powerful. --Ron P. Excerpt: There are highly paid minds on the political left who, having to believe in something for the coming election, consider it smart to paint the GOP (and by extension the Tea Party movement) as "the party of no." This line of attack doesn't just reek of desperation; it stinks to the heavens of their gross misunderstanding of what is taking place among the American public. Time and again, Democrats fire off the hateful and obscene smear "teabaggers" to try to soil the mood of the energized electorate. Calling people ugly names is what the left does when it has no other argument. Name-calling is one thing, but inaccurate name-calling is a bigger issue for Democratic designs. I wish I could say I was astonished at the utter inability of the left to read what is going on in the country, but that failure comes from two very clear aspects of contemporary American leftism. The first is its intense desire to remake this country (you can argue its panic to do so) under Obama. The second is that Democrats are so blinded by ideology that they misread and misuse their own attack words. (...) Principled adults lead by example. It is a fundamental requirement of leadership to be able to say no. Absolute personal power comes from a simple truth: there is nothing more powerful that the ability to say no without fear of consequence. In America, at this moment, the flipside to that is also true: the consequences of not saying "no" are severe. The childish rants of the left only underscore its childish worldview and, worse, its elementary understanding of the concepts of the Constitution. Some would argue the left does understand those core concepts and simply dislikes them. I disagree. The left views the underpinnings of the Constitution as a broad outline that allows for updating to meet its demands. If a child lives in a home where the house rules are not enforced firmly, the child believes it has the authority to determine, to some level, his or her own boundaries. Frankly, that last sentence defines leftist parenting. Principled adults use "no" firmly to establish that there is a solid foundation and that nothing will be allowed to weaken it.

Senators support illegal immigration super highway
Excerpt: Twenty-three Senators have recently thrown their support behind an innocent looking bill that will, among other things, create an illegal immigration superhighway, remove access to natural resources, and ultimately strip ranchers of their grazing rights, all under the auspices of "preserving" wilderness. When New Mexico's Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall introduced S.B. 1689 in September 2009, immigration was barely a blip on the public's radar. Over the last year, other issues such as stimulus spending, health care, and cap-and-trade have stolen the spotlight. Their harmless sounding bill, which makes land in New Mexico part of the National Wilderness Preservation System and the National Landscape Conversation System, received virtually no attention. However, it has percolated to the top as the markup of the bill has been approved (23-0) and is headed to the Senate floor.

Climategate Was No Fluke
Excerpt: The mainstream alarmist posturing on climate change by the likes of Al Gore, regardless of whether it meets the demands of scientific accuracy or not, is resetting political priorities and imposing billions of dollars in costs for governments the world over. Sustained inquiry, debate and scrutiny around the dealings of those involved — from scientific practitioners to powerful policymakers — are not only inevitable, but are also absolute imperatives. The taxpayer, after all, funds most of the climate research and his life is vastly affected by the domestic and international policies that it shapes. In particular, emerging economies across the world grapple with the burden of international pressures to “green up” versus their own aspirations to fully industrialize. In that regard, the sensational November 2009 revelation of deplorable practices by leading climate change scientists cannot have been some blind chase driven by ideology, but a significant and irreversible turn in one of the greatest geopolitical debates of all time. Notwithstanding the supposed exonerations of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) scientists in question, their behavior remains unscrupulous. Moreover, for those manning the frontiers of an issue with such enormous global implications, “hiding the temperature decline” and destroying emails with critical evidence strikes me as just outright unacceptable. (This column seems to be from a sophomore at Brown University. Good integrity of thought. I think we'll hear from him again in the future. Ron P.)

(Contaminated?) Los Angeles school named after Al Gore,0,719678.story
Excerpt: Al Gore has had some tough breaks — like losing the presidency after getting more votes than the other guy — but the noted environmentalist achieved a singular honor last week, becoming the first vice president to have a Los Angeles school named after him. And, fittingly, the school will be devoted to environmental themes. But as in the 2000 election, there's a catch. Critics say the campus' location poses a long-term health risk to students and staff. School district officials insist that the Arlington Heights property is clean and safe. And they've pledged to check vapor monitors and groundwater wells to make sure. The $75.5-million Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Sciences will open Sept. 13 for about 675 students. As he was with Bill Clinton (who has an L.A. middle school named after him), Gore is second on the ticket to Rachel Carson, the late author credited with helping launch the modern environmental movement. "Renaming this terribly contaminated school after famous environmental advocates is an affront to the great work that these individuals have done to protect the public's health from harm," an environmental coalition wrote in a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Making sure the school is safe "would be an even better way to honor their contribution to society." (Carson deserves top honors. After all, her book got DDT banned, condemning millions of black, brown and yellow children to death from Malaria. Gore has a ways to go to top that. ~Bob.)

ICE Trying For New Federal Mandate That Would Force Local Law Enforcement to Let Illegal Immigrants Go Free Unless They’re Felons…
Excerpt: Letting illegal immigrants go free? Hard to believe but that could be the new federal mandate if a proposed ICE policy change is approved. Here’s the idea: If authorities pull someone over for a traffic stop and discover they are in the country illegally, authorities would be forced to let the illegal immigrant go without calling federal agents unless the individual is a convicted felon. Even officers opposed to SB 1070 say this would set a bad precedent. Sheriff Tony Estrada of Santa Cruz County says nothing in southern Arizona would change if the detention policy changed. He says that’s because his deputies turn these kinds of cases over to Border Patrol anyway. Just as some of the debate swirling around Arizona’s new immigration law began to cool off, a possible new Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy has some mad hot.

LAPD officers who shot immigrant acted 'in immediate defense of life,' Beck says
Excerpt: Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday offered a detailed account of a fatal officer-involved shooting near MacArthur Park that has sparked community protests and scattered unrest. Emphasizing that the department's internal investigation into the shooting had only just begun, Beck said initial accounts from witnesses and the involved officers indicate the officer who fired acted "in immediate defense of life." Three officers assigned to the Rampart Division's bicycle unit were responding to a different radio call Sunday afternoon when they were flagged down by a pedestrian, who told them a man was threatening passersby with a knife nearby, Beck told the Los Angeles Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD. The officers rode to the corner of Sixth Street and Union Avenue, observing the man as he continued to threaten people with a knife, Beck said. They confronted him with their weapons drawn, ordering him repeatedly in English and Spanish to drop the knife, according to Beck. The man instead raised the knife over his head and advanced toward the officers, at which point one of the officers fired two rounds.

Muslims in New York City show how Muslims should treat the US Flag! Islamic Thinkers Society
Hopefully, no Islamophobes offended these folks by, say, drawing a picture of Mohammad.

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