Monday, October 11, 2010

Political Digest for October 11, 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.

November election results will vindicate or undercut Obama
Excerpt: Promoting his new book, Jimmy Carter, whose version of Christianity allows ample scope for what some Christians consider the sin of pride, has been doing something at which he has had long practice -- praising himself. He is, he says, "probably superior" to all other ex-presidents, and would have enacted comprehensive health care if a selfish Ted Kennedy had not sabotaged his plan. Actually, one reason Carter, who promised to deliver government "as good as the American people," lost 44 states in his 1980 reelection bid was that voters believed he considered himself too good for them. And they thought he did not know them -- that he was disconnected from the way most people thought and felt. Eight years later, another Democratic presidential candidate had a comparable problem. Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis had vetoed a bill that would have required public schoolteachers to lead their classes in the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps the bill was constitutionally problematic. But a presidential campaign is not a law seminar. Dukakis's incomprehension of American political culture outside of Massachusetts was apparent when, responding to Republican insinuations about his patriotism, he said dismissively that "every first-year law student" studies flag-salute cases that vindicate his position. Today, Barack Obama, a chronic campaigner, is out and about trying to arouse the masses against the inequity of not raising taxes on "the rich." He opposes extending the Bush tax rates -- they are due to expire Dec. 31, when a higher rate is restored -- for "millionaires and billionaires." And for quarter-millionaires. Expiration would mean an increase for households with incomes of at least $250,000. Obama's $750,000 fudge sweeps many people into the plutocracy. In Obama's Chicago, a high school principal can earn $148,000. A police officer with 25 years on the force can earn $114,000 -- not counting overtime. If the principal and the officer are married, supposedly they are rich. During the 2008 campaign, Obama said that the rich begin at $150,000. If so, both the principal and the police officer are perilously close to becoming targets of liberal redistributionists….. Today, if you see Obama in a political ad, you are almost certainly watching a Republican ad. And a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that more than twice as many people view House Speaker Nancy Pelosi negatively (50 percent) than positively (22 percent). If Democrats retain control of Congress, Obama will seek reelection while being perceived as responsible for everything in Washington, where everything is perceived to be dysfunctional. And anti-Washington fever may be worse than it is today, because the 2010 elections will not seem to have changed very much. If Democrats lose both houses, Obama will seem repudiated. If they lose neither, he will seem impotent. So, if Democrats lose big, he loses big. If they lose smaller, he loses bigger.

The Most Important Race of 2010
Excerpt: The senator briefly continued the discussion of deaths due to lack of insurance. I mentioned a study that concluded 40,000 people die annually because they aren’t insured. (At least one other study has put the death toll at zero.) But Boxer didn’t flinch. She didn’t back off from her claim. She left the press room, only to return about 10 seconds later. “Fred, did I say thousands a day?” she said. “I meant thousands a year.” It was a wise tactical retreat. What should we draw from this episode? Three things. One, in the heat of a reelection campaign, Boxer will say just about anything so long as she can get away with it. And she usually can. Two, she is under extraordinary pressure from Fiorina, by far the strongest Republican candidate she’s ever faced. Three, Boxer is a tough, resourceful, and shrewd campaigner and not too haughty to correct a false statement when necessary to avert trouble. Often that’s not necessary. Boxer, 69, makes so many dubious, untrue, hypocritical, or outlandish remarks in a single debate that most of them fly by without registering. Thank heaven for transcripts.

Sustainable Oil Production?
Excerpt: Who would have thought the current controversy over manmade global warming could lead to significant rethinking of the entire climate change phenomenon and, as an unintended consequence, shatter another environmental group-think error involving sustainable oil production? Stick with me here. We need to review some history first. Climate change alarmists, seeking to bolster their theory of the hypothetical properties of carbon dioxide to foster manmade global warming, devised the concept of radiant energy balance. The problem is that all such concepts to date specify solar radiation as the primary source of energy for Earth's climate system. Unfortunately, not only is this fundamentally flawed science, it has made it difficult to fully explain variations in ocean temperatures causing such well-known regional phenomena as the Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation,. Any correct science model of physical phenomena must include all variables and constants. Missing from the current models is the heat input originating from the molten material forming the core of our planet and upon which the thin crust floats. A Canadian engineer estimates this core heat could range from 75% to nearly 100% of that received on earth originating from the sun. So why ignore something of such potential magnitude? Because core heat flow remains difficult to precisely quantify. Not only is little really known about the source of that heat, but its impact on climate appears discontinuous due to the movement of tectonic plates forming the crust. However, as more and more scientists begin to realize what has been overlooked, focus is shifting to theories proposed over the last couple of decades which may provide the key to not only explain certain climate change phenomena but could lead to new conclusions about petroleum production. What is that key? It involves recognition of the potential source of the heat -- a nuclear fission reactor at or near the very center of the planet. Current conventional wisdom holds that petroleum products result from accumulation of ancient biomass. Oil is said to form from preserved remains of prehistoric algae and zooplankton through a process called diagenesis. In the late 19th Century, Dmitri Mendelev, renowned Russian chemist and inventor who achieved great fame when he proposed the first version of a periodic table of elements, studied petroleum hydrocarbons. He concluded hydrocarbons originated from carbon deposits in the depths of the earth perhaps dating back to the formation of the planet and could be formed by chemical combination under suitable temperatures and pressures without need for biomass. Astronomical observations of vast amounts of methane on other planets and moons (such on Saturn's Titan) -- obviously formed without the benefit of biomass -- supported this theory.

San Diego Sheriffs Deputy accused of working for the Mexican Mafia
Infiltrating here as there. ~Bob. Excerpt: A San Diego County jail guard is scheduled to stand trial, the first in the wake of a highly publicized federal investigation into the Mexican Mafia. In 2009, the Violent Crimes Task Force apprehended 40 people suspected to have ties to the Mexican Mafia as part of Operation Keys to the City. While details were kept quiet at first, it turns out one of them arrested was Andres Villota, a San Diego County Sheriff's deputy working at the County Jail downtown.

A presidency on the verge of a nervous breakdown: 5 key reasons why Barack Obama’s future looks increasingly bleak
From a British paper. ~Bob. Excerpt: Forget the myth of an Obama recovery. The past week has been disastrous for the White House and America’s increasingly disillusioned Left. No wonder the angry and desperate Vice President Joe Biden is talking about “playing hell” if his party suffers defeat in November. Here are five reasons why the Obama presidency’s outlook is getting significantly worse, not better: 1. A new Gallup poll suggests the November mid-terms could result in the biggest victory for Republicans in the House since 1894 Gallup’s latest poll is absolutely devastating in its analysis of the Democrats’ prospects for November 2, projecting a 13 point lead for the Republicans based on higher overall turnout, and a staggering 18 point lead if turnout is low. In Gallup’s view: If there is a widely disproportionate skew in turnout toward Republican voters and their national vote lead ends up being in the double digits, the Republican gains would be very substantial. As leading election analyst Michael Barone noted, the Gallup numbers “suggest it looks like 1894, when Republicans gained more than 100 seats in a House of approximately 350 seats.” If the Gallup poll proves accurate, we could be looking at a GOP victory in the House of Representatives of absolutely historic proportions, a scenario frightening enough to give even the most seasoned Obama White House adviser nightmares.

A long tradition of corruption and ambivalence
Excerpt: From the time they arrive in Washington, newly elected members of Congress are told they are something special, an elite class. "You have reached a special place in life and in American history," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi told a recent class of freshmen Senators and Congressman. "Treat it with respect." But too many members of both the House and Senate treat their "special place in life and in American history" as a license to steal, living large at taxpayer expense, ignoring laws that apply to ordinary Americans and betraying the trust of the public that put them there. Does the heady atmosphere of Congress turn honest men and women into a criminal class? Or is elected office simply a magnet for those who lie, cheat and steal for a living? It could be a little bit of both, say political scientists and Constitutional scholars. "There's no doubt that politics attracts the glib, the fast talker and the con artist," says retired Southern Illinois University political scientist George Harleigh. "It's a natural place for those who think fast on their feet."

Don’t Try Terrorists, Lock Them Up
Excerpt: THE Obama administration wants to show that federal courts can handle trials of Guantánamo Bay detainees, and had therefore placed high hopes in the prosecution of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in East Africa. On Wednesday a federal judge, Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court in Manhattan, made the government’s case much harder when he excluded the testimony of the government’s central witness because the government learned about the witness through interrogating Mr. Ghailani at a secret overseas prison run by the C.I.A. Some, mostly liberals and civil libertarians, applauded the ruling, saying it showed that the rule of law is being restored. But many conservatives denounced it as proof that high-level terrorists cannot reliably be prosecuted in civilian courts and should instead be tried by military commissions. The real lesson of the ruling, however, is that prosecution in either criminal court or a tribunal is the wrong approach. The administration should instead embrace what has been the main mechanism for terrorist incapacitation since 9/11: military detention without charge or trial. Military detention was once legally controversial but now is not. District and appellate judges have repeatedly ruled — most recently on Thursday — that Congress, in its September 2001 authorization of force, empowered the president to detain members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces until the end of the military conflict. Because the enemy in this indefinite war wears no uniform, courts have rightly insisted on high legal and evidentiary standards — much higher than what the Geneva Conventions require — to justify detention. And many detainees in cases that did not meet these standards have been released. Still, while it is more difficult than ever to keep someone like Mr. Ghailani in military detention, it is far easier to detain him than to convict him in a civilian trial or a military commission. Military detention proceedings have relatively forgiving evidence rules and aren’t constrained by constitutional trial rules like the right to a jury and to confront witnesses. There is little doubt that Mr. Ghailani could be held in military detention until the conflict with Al Qaeda ends. Why, then, does the Obama administration seek to prosecute him in federal court? One answer might be that trials permit punishment, including the death penalty. But the Justice Department is not seeking the death penalty against Mr. Ghailani. Another answer is that trials “give vent to the outrage” over attacks on civilians, as Judge Kaplan has put it. This justification for the trial is diminished, however, by the passage of 12 years since the crimes were committed. The final answer, and the one that largely motivates the Obama administration, is that trials are perceived to be more legitimate than detention, especially among civil libertarians and foreign allies.

Specialists’ Help at Court Can Come With a Catch
Excerpt: Humberto Fernandez-Vargas, deported to Mexico, had run out of options. A federal appeals court said he could not return to the United States to live with his American wife and son. And his lawyer did not have the expertise or money to pursue the case further. J. Christopher Keen represented Humberto Fernandez-Vargas, who had been deported. Then the cavalry arrived. Leading lawyers from around the country, sensing that the case was one of the rare ones that might reach the Supreme Court, called to offer free help. Mr. Fernandez-Vargas’s immigration lawyer was delighted, and he chose a lawyer from a prominent firm here. But there was a catch, and then a controversy. The catch was that the Washington lawyer, David M. Gossett, would take the case only if he could argue before the Supreme Court himself. The controversy was that groups representing immigrants were furious, suspicious of the new lawyer’s interest in the case and fearful of a Supreme Court ruling that would curtail the rights of immigrants nationwide.

Black Republicans Offer Hope After Barack Obama's Failures on Race
Excerpt: "Campaigning a few miles from Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861, Tim Scott described last week how he was born into poverty and a broken home, much like Barack Obama. “My dad was gone by the time I was seven," the black candidate for the House of Representatives told a mixed group of students at Fort Dorchester High School in North Charleston. "I was flunking out of high school. I failed geography, civics, Spanish and English. When you fail Spanish and English, you are not bilingual, you are bi-ignorant."

Brooklyn bum fakes war wound for cash
Excerpt: For years, Brooklyn commuters have opened their wallets for Robert McMahon, handing cash to this heroic and heartbreaking figure, a Vietnam vet in combat fatigues, his left arm missing and his right leg crippled, as he panhandles on Ocean Parkway in Kensington. He plays to their patriotism, having scrawled his nickname, "Rambo," on the back of his camouflage jacket, along with his years of service with the Marines and two stints in 'Nam that saw heavy action. The top of his empty left sleeve is pinned to his uniform shoulder, and he drags his bum leg behind him. When drivers stop for red lights, McMahon, 53, hobbles over and salutes gallantly, juggling a paper cup and a cardboard sign that reads, "Vietnam vet." They give freely. They are being scammed. McMahon has two arms -- and was seen using them last week to count the wads of cash he took off kindhearted New Yorkers. He is not crippled, as was readily apparent when he swiftly dodged inquiring Post reporters. And it seems he never served in the Marines nor in Vietnam, according to Corps and Veterans Administration officials who could not find any record of him. But he carries on with his wounded-soldier act, day after day, weaving through traffic and occasionally cursing out people who refuse to give. He's been at it since at least 1987, when he pretended to have a missing leg and pushed himself around in a rusty wheelchair, according to a friend. (We need volunteers to beat the crap out of him, then plead PTSD. ~Bob.)

Is Obama Considering Rule by Executive Order in 2011?
Excerpt: This morning, political commentators are paying a great deal of attention to one of the Los Angeles Times’ stories about Barack Obama’s plans for a Republican takeover of Congress. Unfortunately, they are focusing on the wrong one. Most commentators spent the morning quoting the president’s remarks on a black radio program that a GOP-dominated Congress will result in “hand-to-hand combat.” The reality is most of the action will take place behind their backs and over their heads. All indications are, if Obama cannot get his legislative agenda enacted by Congress, he will impose it by decree. The evidence comes buried elsewhere in today’s L.A. Times in a piece by Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons under the hum-drum headline, “Obama Reshapes Administration for a Fresh Strategy.” The story makes clear the “fresh strategy” borders on government by executive fiat. It begins, “As President Obama remakes his senior staff, he is also shaping a new approach for the second half of his term: to advance his agenda through executive actions he can take on his own, rather than pushing plans through an increasingly hostile Congress.” This rule by divine right of kings is confirmed by no less an Obama insider than David Axelrod, who said, “It’s fair to say that the next phase is going to be less about legislative action than it is about managing the change that we’ve brought.” The Times states candidly: So the best arena for Obama to execute his plans may be his own branch of government. That means more executive orders, more use of the bully pulpit, and more deployment of his ample regulatory powers and the wide-ranging rulemaking authority of his Cabinet members.

No comments:

Post a Comment