Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Political Digest for November 24, 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. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

This I Believe—Updated
I’ve always thought this was a better piece than “I’m Tired,” so I thought I’d try circulating it again.

Who Knew?
That Hope & Change meant Pat Downs, Put Downs and Shake Downs?

North, South Korea exchange fire; 2 marines killed
ROKMC is tough, originally trained by our Marines, no one to mess with. But the PRK knows they have a weak guy in Barack “Jimmy Carter” Obama, will see how far they can push. ~Bob. Excerpt: North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire Tuesday after the North shelled an island near their disputed sea border, killing at least two South Korean marines, setting dozens of buildings ablaze and sending civilians fleeing for shelter. The clash, which put South Korea's military on high alert, was one of the rivals' most dramatic confrontations since the Korean War ended, and one of the few to put civilians at risk, though no nonmilitary deaths were immediately reported. Sixteen South Korean soldiers and three civilians were injured and the extent of casualties on the northern side was unknown.

Don’t Give In To North Korea Demands
Our problem is that Obama never expected to face such problems. He really thought he was so much smarter than Bush that by his rhetoric and a little community organizing on an international scale would bring on the millennium. Now we lack resolve and firm leadership at the top. ~Bob. Excerpt: This is not the first time the North Koreans have threatened South Korea in the Yellow Sea (also called the West Sea). In August, the North fired 110 artillery shells near Yeonpyeong and another island. And in March, 46 sailors were killed when a North Korean torpedo sunk the Cheonan. Today’s artillery shelling furthers North Korea’s tactical objectives of asserting sovereignty over the West Sea Area. But, more importantly, it furthers the North’s strategic escalating pattern of provocations designed to force the United States and South Korea to abandon pressure tactics, including sanctions on the regime. The White House must not give into these tactics. Pyongyang’s actions, including this weekend’s revelations of a covert uranium enrichment facility, are designed to weaken U.S. and South Korean resolve and force the U.S. back to Six Party Talks on nuclear negotiations; which is exactly what China called on the U.S. to do after today’s incident. So far the U.S. and South Korean governments have properly resisted North Korean demands and they must continue to do so. That the Chinese continue to abet the North Korean’s tactics should also make us think long and hard about the sort of partner/competitor we face with China. But this incident is also another reminder of the White House’s misplaced priorities

Worth Reading: Sgt. Giunta's fair fight
As the old vet’s joke goes, if you are at war and find yourself in a fair fight, your planning sucked! ~Bob. Excerpt: We watched with enormous pride and humility Tuesday as Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta became the first living soldier awarded the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. For many of us who served in that long-ago war, the circumstances under which Giunta won his medal felt frighteningly familiar: an inhospitable and forbidding mountainous battlefield that looks very much like Vietnam's Central Highlands. A diabolical, fanatic enemy skilled in the tactical art of war. A lone squad patrol, armed with the same class of weapons we used more than four decades ago, engaged in a desperate firefight against an enemy who remained undetected until the patrol entered the kill zone. The results were both heroic and tragic: Two of Giunta's buddies died in what appeared to be, sadly, too fair a fight. All this raises a question, particularly for those who have served before: After nearly half a century, and after nine years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, why are our soldiers still involved in fair fights? Giunta's story is simultaneously heartening and maddening because we have seen this go on for too long. (Very well said. Enough with PC, fair, clean fighting, yadda-yadda. The business of war is smashing things and killing people, and the better and faster you do it, the sooner it's over. We badly need to restore the kind of focus on fighting to win that we had in WW2. --Del)

Airport 'Security'? By Thomas Sowell
No country has better airport security than Israel-- and no country needs it more, since Israel is the most hated target of Islamic extremist terrorists. Yet, somehow, Israeli airport security people don't have to strip passengers naked electronically or have strangers feeling their private parts. Does anyone seriously believe that we have better airport security than Israel? Is our security record better than theirs? "Security" may be the excuse being offered for the outrageous things being done to American air travelers, but the heavy-handed arrogance and contempt for ordinary people that is the hallmark of this administration in other areas is all too painfully apparent in these new and invasive airport procedures...As for the excuse of "security," this is one of the least security-minded administrations we have had. When hundreds of illegal immigrants from terrorist-sponsoring countries were captured crossing the border from Mexico-- and then released on their own recognizance within the United States, that tells you all you need to know about this administration's concern for security. When captured terrorists who are not covered by either the Geneva Convention or the Constitution of the United States are nevertheless put on trial in American civilian courts by the Obama Justice Department, that too tells you all you need to know about how concerned they are about national security.

Great article: The Presidency and the Constitution
Excerpt: There is no finer, more moving, or more profound understanding of the nature of the presidency and the command of humility placed upon it than that expressed by President Coolidge. He, like Lincoln, lost a child while he was president, a son of sixteen. “The day I became president,” Coolidge wrote, “he had just started to work in a tobacco field.” When one of his fellow laborers said to him, “If my father was president I would not work in a tobacco field,” Calvin replied, “If my father were your father you would.” His admiration for the boy was obvious……The modern presidency has drifted far from the great strength and illumination of its source: the Constitution as given life by the Declaration of Independence, the greatest political document ever written. The Constitution—terse, sober, and specific—does not, except by implication, address the president’s demeanor. But this we can read in the best qualities of the founding generation, which we would do well to imitate. In the Capitol Rotunda are heroic paintings of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the victory at Saratoga, the victory at Yorktown, and—something seldom seen in history—a general, the leader of an armed rebellion, resigning his commission and surrendering his army to a new democracy. Upon hearing from Benjamin West that George Washington, having won the war and been urged by some to use the army to make himself king, would instead return to his farm, King George III said: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” He did, and he was…..A president who slights the Constitution is like a rider who hates his horse: he will be thrown, and the nation along with him. The president solemnly swears to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. He does not solemnly swear to ignore, overlook, supplement, or reinterpret it. Other than in a crisis of existence, such as the Civil War, amendment should be the sole means of circumventing the Constitution. For if a president joins the powers of his office to his own willful interpretation, he steps away from a government of laws and toward a government of men.

Decline of the West and Israel on the Front Line
Excerpt: Mark Steyn: "Conservative Americans scoff that liberal Americans want to turn the United States into a large Sweden. Liberal Americans reply, well what’s so wrong with being a large Sweden? It’s not clear to me that it’s possible to be a large Sweden and these days, even Sweden isn’t Sweden…The only reason Sweden can be Sweden and Belgium can be Belgium and Canada can be Canada is because since 1945 America has been America: the global order maker."

The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration
Excerpt: The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration is a report put together by P.F. Wagner with editing and additions by Dan Amato of the immigration website Diggers Realm Within this report you will find statistics, facts and the issues the United States is facing regarding illegal immigration. All of the information is presented in a well sourced and documented manner. You can navigate through the different sections on the navigation bar to your left. Most Americans are against illegal immigration, but I feel that the majority just don't know the dire situation that our country is in and the damage that illegal aliens are doing to the United States.

If they spot one over Lake Michigan, I’m outta here! ~Bob. Excerpt: Just days after the “mystery missile” was spotted off the California coast, another reported “mystery missile” has been spotted—this time in New York. As with the UFO sightings hype of October, initiated by a mass UFO sighting in New York, it appears that media hype surrounding the mysterious Los Angeles coast vapor trail is going to result in additional “mystery missile” sightings around the country. The New York Post is reporting a New York mystery missile. Yesterday, a Queens resident photographed what he believed to be rocket in the sky above Brooklyn or New Jersey. The investigation into the strange vapor trail off California’s coast has been called off by the Pentagon after reaching the conclusion that the trail was simply caused by an airplane, and an “optical illusion” from the camera’s angle is what gave the plane and its trail the missile-like appearance. But there are many who refuse to accept the Pentagon’s explanation. (Actually, I'm inclined to think this one is an aircraft contrail. It doesn't extend BELOW the cloud layer in the photo, which the California UFO's did. It is comparatively straight and shows little in the way of "wedge shape" which is typical of a missile launch smoke trail; the California UFO's trail did show a wedge shape, though not as pronounced as it would have been if we could have seen it all the way to the launching point (assuming it was a missile). And, finally, it appears pure white like water vapor, not dirty brown like smoke. My best guess would be a high-altitude aircraft in level flight several minutes before the photo was snapped. Ron P.)

Bombshell evidence may make Waters an ethics nightmare for Dems
Excerpt: Apparently, the Charlie Rangel ethics trial was just the warm-up act. The New York Times reported over the weekend that the House Ethics Committee suddenly postponed the trial of Maxine Waters on ethics violation because it found more evidence of direct intervention by her office to benefit the bank in which her husband owned a substantial interest. According to new e-mails uncovered by the committee, her chief of staff directly coordinated with other members of the House Financial Services Committee on behalf of OneUnited: A newly discovered exchange of e-mails led the House ethics committee on Friday to delay its trial of Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat accused of helping steer bailout money to a bank in which her husband owned shares. (If she gets off, I certainly hope OJ will sign on to help her find the real corrupt Congressman. ~Bob.)

Uncharted territory in Maxine Waters case
Excerpt: With the decision by the ethics committee to renew its investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters, after the panel has already charged her with three counts of violating House rules, the secretive panel is moving into unchartered and heavily disputed territory. Several ethics experts said they could not recall any similar action in a previous congressional probe, and they questioned whether the committee even had the authority to do so once it has charged Waters with multiple ethics violations. The move also means that the Waters’ case is almost certain to extend into the 112th Congress. In order to do so, the ethics committee would have to vote to continue the investigation once it organizes next year. And the committee will almost assuredly have new leadership in 2011, at least on the Democratic side, raising further doubts about the outcome of the case —- including if and when it will ever come to trial.

Mutiny on the Goodship Obama?
Excerpt: Michael Moore complains that the President has “moved too slow and compromised too much.” George Soros warns Barack Obama that “after two years of complete noncooperation and vicious distortion [from Republicans], the time for compromise has ended.” And there’s talk, probably just that, of a possible primary challenge from Russ Feingold, Howard Dean, or Dennis Kucinich. Conventional wisdom holds that the November 2 “shellacking” came about in large part because the President disaffected the vital center by governing uncompromisingly from the irrelevant left. He shunned the Senate Minority leader for nineteen months and didn’t convince a single Republican to vote for his final health-care bill. The never-satisfied Left begs to differ with that assessment. For them, Obama hasn’t closed down Gitmo, ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or sunsetted the Bush tax cuts.

GOP fight for energy gavel mars otherwise seamless transition
excerpt: An acrimonious fight for the gavel of one of the House’s most powerful panels has marred an otherwise seamless transition for Republicans taking power.
Republicans are jockeying fiercely for position in a race to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee — a battle that, at times, has resembled a GOP primary where candidates run to the right. The stakes are high. Whoever holds the chairmanship will immediately become one of the driving forces behind the GOP’s push to “repeal and replace” the sweeping healthcare overhaul. The panel is also ground zero for debates on climate change, telecommunications and the future of the Internet, and the top Republican will have to spar with Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the Democratic chairman who will become the committee’s ranking member.

Health Reform and the Decline of Physician Private Practice
Excerpt: Meeting over a period of two days, the Advisory Panel delineated some general themes and projections, concluding: 1) Health reform is comprised of two elements: “Informal reform,” (i.e., societal and economic trends exerting pressure on the current healthcare system independent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), and “formal reform,” (i.e., the provisions contained in the Act itself). 2) The current iteration of health reform, both formal and informal, will have a transformative effect on the healthcare system. This time, reform will not be a “false dawn” analogous to the health reform movement of the 1990s, but will usher in substantive and lasting changes. 3) The independent, private physician practice model will be largely, though not uniformly, replaced. 4) Most physicians will be compelled to consolidate with other practitioners, become hospital employees, or align with large hospitals and health systems for capital, administrative and technical resources. 5) Emerging practice models will vary by region—one size will not fit all. Large, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), private practice medical homes, large independent groups, large aligned groups, community health centers (CHCs), concierge practices, and small aligned groups will proliferate. 6) Reform will drastically increase physician legal compliance obligations and potential liability under federal fraud and abuse statutes. Enhanced funding for enforcement, additional latitude for “whistleblowers” and the suspension of the government’s need to prove “intent” will create a compliance environment many physicians will find problematic. 7) Reform will exacerbate physician shortages, creating access issues for many patients. Primary care shortages and physician maldistribution will not be resolved. Physicians will need to redefine their roles and rethink delivery models in order to meet rising demand. 8) The imperative to care for more patients, to provide higher perceived quality, at less cost, with increased reporting and tracking demands, in an environment of high potential liability and problematic reimbursement, will put additional stress on physicians, particularly those in private practice. Some physicians will respond by opting out of private practice or by abandoning medicine altogether, contributing to the physician shortage. 9) The omission in reform of a “fix” to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and of liability reform will further disengage doctors from medicine and limit patient access. SGR is unlikely to be resolved by Congress and probably will be folded into new payment mechanisms sometime within the next five years. 10) Health reform was necessary and inevitable. The impetus of informal reform would likely have spurred many of the changes above, independent of formal reform. Net gains in coverage, quality and costs are to be hoped for, but the transition will be challenging to all physicians and onerous to many.

Remembering JFK in an Age of Terror
Excerpt: For many Americans over the age of 55, Nov. 22 rarely passes without a wistful sense of sadness and the thought: What if? But today, 47 years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the initial feeling of shock and disbelief has long since been replaced by the sense that the world took a very bad turn on that day in 1963—one that we have never quite been able to correct. An obscure tape clip has recently surfaced on YouTube that offers no better proof of this redirection. It's almost as if a voice from our past has come back to guide us through the most serious national security threat we face today. The date is Sept. 25, 1961. Kennedy is standing in front of the United Nations General Assembly. And we hear a president of the United States assert a direct and unapologetic definition of who we are as Americans as he offers a response to, of all things, terrorism. The tape clip has a grainy quality, but the words are timeless: "Terror is not a new weapon," the young president tells the world body. "Throughout history, it has been used by those who could not prevail either by persuasion or example. But inevitably, they fail either because men are not afraid to die for a life worth living, or because the terrorists themselves came to realize that free men cannot be frightened by threats and that aggression would meet its own response. And it is in the light of that history that every nation today should know; be he friend or foe, that the United States has both the will and the weapons to join free men in standing up to their responsibilities." (Boy, this brings back memories, of better times, and real leadership. We've had decades of "exposes" on JFK's human frailties, with which he was indeed well equipped. Yet he held and broadcast ideals that I think are timeless, even if so badly neglected in today's time. I'd love to have a politician to vote for like him. Maybe West, the former Army Lt Col from Florida, will evolve into that. --Del)

In 'Safe' Afghan Province, Few Want NATO Forces To Depart
Excerpt: Poverty is endemic in Bamiyan and the infrastructure barely past medieval, but this peaceful province is about as good as it gets in Afghanistan today. The road to the pristine Band-e-Amir lakes is being paved. September's parliamentary elections were violence-free here, and business isn't bad at Hassan Ali's craft shop on Bamiyan's single, bustling thoroughfare. Yet word that the province could be among the first to be "transitioned" away from NATO's security blanket and turned over to Afghan forces has sent tremors of unease through Afghanistan's central highlands. "As soon as they leave, these different ethnic groups will start fighting each other," said Ali, whose one-room shop stocks scarves, rugs and carpets made by a women's cooperative. "We're Afghans, and we know our people very well. We cannot coexist with each other." Bamiyan, a land of majestic, snow-capped mountains and potato fields whose harvest has just been picked, is no stranger to bloodshed. Ethnic Hazaras, who are Shiite Muslims and in the majority here, have been long marginalized and oppressed. From 1996 to 2001, they suffered grievously at the hands of the Taliban, ethnic Pashtuns who are conservative Sunni Muslims and are now fighting U.S. and allied forces to regain sway over Afghanistan. (Gee, what a surprise, Afghans are not enthusiastic about the possible return of the Taliban. Who would have guessed? --Del)

Chilling Report: The Legal, Political and Military Path of Shariah in the United States Today
Excerpt: This past September, the Center for Security Policy issued an abbreviated report titled Shariah – The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, Report of Team B II. In a press conference today, CSP is releasing the full, unexpurgated study, and will have four of the authors on hand to discuss it. A great summary of both versions can be read here. The “Team B” name was coined for a 1976 critique of U.S. détente policy toward the Soviet Union. A group of highly-regarded analysts, “Team B,” found the assumptions of “Team A,” the détente crowd, to be fatally flawed—i.e. that the Soviets could be placated by accommodative policies—and that by naïvely misreading the enemy, détente was actually exposing the U.S. to lethal danger. This later became the foundation for the Reagan Doctrine. The Team B II report continues this tradition, this time evaluating U.S. policy toward radical Muslims living within the U.S. The 372 page document addresses in detail a largely unrecognized but deadly Islamist infiltration, its methodologies, its goals, its frightening successes and what must be done to stem this tide.

Make Taxes Visible
Excerpt: Here is an idea that should receive support from just about everyone: the taxpayer savings account (TSA). Instead of the current withholding system, amounts withheld from your paycheck would go into a segregated account that you own. Interest that accumulates would be yours to keep, instead of accruing to your employer or the government, says Michael Whalen, policy chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis and the president and chief executive of Heart of America Restaurants & Inns. The balance not needed for taxes would grow tax-free for your retirement or could be withdrawn tax-free for your personal consumption. Income taxes you owe would only be paid when they are due -- on April 15. Social Security and other federal payroll taxes could also be put in the account, and remitted quarterly to the government. (Here’s the fatal flaw in this plan: Politicians desperately want to keep what people pay invisible to reduce the outrage. ~Bob.)

The Negative Consequences of Government Expenditure
Excerpt: The U.S. national debt currently stands at 62 percent of GDP—its highest level since WWII.1 Under plausible assumptions, this ratio will rise to at least 80 percent and possibly 185 percent of GDP by 2035 and continue increasing thereafter. As the debt ratio increases, the country’s creditors will demand higher and higher interest rates to continue financing this debt. This means even larger deficits and ultimately a U.S. default. Both macroeconomic and microeconomic perspectives suggest that tax increases cannot address the debt problem because higher taxes mean slower economic growth, reducing the scope for increased tax revenue.3 If tax increases cannot restore fiscal balance, the United States must slow the path of expenditure, starting with reforming entitlement spending, to avoid fiscal Armageddon. Expenditure cuts can simultaneously improve fiscal balance while enhancing economic growth.

Stimulus: Still Not Working! Unbelievably, the administration and its allies keep insisting that a failed policy was a success.
Excerpt: Imagine that I break my arm, but instead of getting a cast I take a big shot of morphine. The drug will make me feel better, but it won’t fix my arm. When the effect wears off, the pain will come back. And instead of being restored to their proper position, my bones will remain out of place, perhaps solidifying there, which will surely mean chronic pain in the long run. Stimulus spending is like morphine. It might feel good in the short term for the beneficiaries of the money, but it doesn’t help repair the economy. And it causes more damage if it gets in the way of a proper recovery.

Al Gore: I shouldn't have supported corn-based ethanol
Excerpt: Former vice president Al Gore said Monday that he regrets supporting first-generation corn-based ethanol subsidies while he was in office. Reuters reports that Gore said his support for corn-based ethanol subsidies was rooted more in his desire to cultivate farm votes for his presidential run in 2000 than in doing what was right for the environment: "It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens, Greece. (as the Good Ship Global Warming settles lower in the water, the Cap & Trade multi-millionaire throws the Ethanol & Corm multi-millionaires out of the lifeboat. Those of us who enriched both just paddle around without life jackets. ~Bob.)

2010 losers, outgoing officeholders mulling 2012 bids
Excerpt: It's not unusual for candidates who've come up short in their bids for political office to take a second shot down the line, and this cycle is no exception: Less than three weeks after Election Day, a number of 2010 contenders who saw defeat (or are stepping down) this year are already making noises about running again. Some are defeated incumbents mulling rematches for their old seats; others are political newcomers who cut their teeth on a 2010 bid and are back for more. There are even a few statewide office-holders who are stepping down from their current jobs in 2011 but are mulling another bid for office in the next year or two.

GOP leadership warns freshmen about press, ethics traps
Excerpt: The incoming class of House Republicans is being urged to re-read the Constitution, carefully deal with the press and become very familiar with congressional ethics rules. In a 144-page how-to House guidebook titled Hit the Ground Running, House Republican leaders advise the soon-to-be-freshmen on a range of issues both big and small. (I hope they told them to work the district, go home every weekend, attend every event possible in the district and keep in constant touch with constituents. That’s how I turned a 9-vote win in a 4-1 Democrat senate district in 1972 into a 10,000 vote win in 1974. Their first job is to get re-elected in 2012, because fixing our problems—if they can be fixed—will take a lot longer than two years. The quickest way to be a one-term wonder is to create the impression that you’ve “gone Washington” and are full of yourself. I fear they will make Alan West a national rock star as an outspoken Black conservative, and pull him away from his folks. ~Bob.)

Young Irish trying their luck abroad
News Flash from 1848. ~Bob Excerpt: All of them are joining a wave of Irish who are migrating from hard-hit shores in numbers not seen in years, reopening a chapter of emigration that Ireland hoped it had closed.

Negotiator for Taliban was an impostor, Afghan officials say
Excerpt: A man purporting to be one of the Taliban's most senior commanders convinced both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the NATO officials who flew him to Afghanistan's capital for meetings, but two senior Afghan officials now believe the man was a lowly shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta. (During WWI, the Brits gave a lot of cash and weapons to an Arab tribal chief to fight the Germans. The “chief” turned out to be a street hustler. See “A Peace to End All Peace.” ~Bob.)

Dear Bob: It has been 13 years since I visited Kazakhstan and, contrary to brickbats from the liberal media, they have made great strides in their economy, their social contract, and their standing in the world. And, when they really needed the money, you and your friends will be happy to know that they resisted the temptation to sell enriched uranium and plutonium to the terror masters of Tehran. --Chet Nagle. Excerpt: There is a country big enough to swallow the territories of Texas and France five times over. It is the ninth-largest nation in the world, bigger than Western Europe. Lazy journalists and the liberal media have colored what Westerners know about Kazakhstan, but this holiday season the world owes that young nation a huge debt of gratitude. Kazakhstan has protected us from a nuclear nightmare. Kazakhstan became an independent country on December 16, 1991, the last Soviet republic to do so. Its communist-era leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, became president and established his rule over the new government. His firm leadership immediately drew universal criticism for everything from suppression of the media to human rights violations and so, amazingly, the vast country slowly disappeared from the world stage. Now it is back…. But the short concluding discussion led by Ambassador Idrissov was electrifying. His comments were based on a secret operation concluded in early November that involved tons of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium.

Ortiz concedes House race in Texas
Excerpt: Congressman Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) has conceded the race for the 27th Congressional District following a recount; Republican candidate Blake Farenthold's victory gives GOP a 62-seat net gain in the House of Representatives.

Huckabee: It's harder to beat Obama than Republicans think
Excerpt: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) warned Republicans it's going to be harder than they think to beat President Obama in 2012. “I think it’s going to be harder to beat Barack Obama than a lot of Republicans are thinking," he said Monday in an interview on ABC's "The View." “He is the president,” he said. “There is an extraordinary advantage of an incumbent.” Asked if he could beat the president, Huckabee responded: “I wouldn’t run if I didn’t think I could.” The former governor has not made an official announcement about the 2012 presidential race, but polls show he has high favorability marks among Republicans and that he runs head-to-head with Obama in matchups. (Yup. Democrats thought with his negative numbers and Iraq, anyone could beat Bush in 2004. They were wrong. ~Bob.)

You can’t see England, you can’t see France
Until we see your underpants.

Great column: Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals
Excerpt: According to polls -- Pew Research Center, the National Science Foundation -- and studies such as Professor Arthur Brooks' Gross National Happiness, conservative Americans are happier than liberal Americans. Liberals respond this way: "If we're unhappier, it's because we are more upset than conservatives over the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves." But common sense and data suggest other explanations. For one thing, conservatives on the same socioeconomic level as liberals give more charity and volunteer more time than do liberals. And as regards the suffering of non-Americans, for at least a half-century, conservatives have been far more willing to sacrifice American treasure and American blood (often their own) for other nations' liberty. Both of these facts refute the liberals-are-more-concerned-about-others explanation for liberal unhappiness. So, let's look at other explanations. Perhaps we are posing the question backward when we ask why liberals are less happy than conservatives. The question implies that liberalism causes unhappiness. And while this is true, it may be equally correct to say that unhappy people are more likely to adopt leftist positions.

Health reform's competition-crushers
Excerpt: Liberal consumer groups are aghast to learn that the Obama health team are really monopolists at heart, bent on handing hospitals a cartel in their local markets.
Sunday's New York Times report on this horror confirms what I wrote about in these pages weeks ago ("Killing Marcus Welby," PostOpinion, Oct. 18). I warned that the creation of "accountable care organizations," which put hospitals in control of all the doctors in their outlying areas, would lead to concentrated power over the provision of medical care -- turning physicians into salaried employees and reducing consumer choices. ACOs were invented as a way to cut costs in Medicare. But the administration plainly means to use them as the tools for vastly greater government control of the health-care system, by having them displace traditional health plans. In anticipation of this, the marketplace is already consolidating. The resulting ACO monopolies will solidify the effects of ObamaCare. Even if the "reform" law is repealed in a few years, it may be too late. The ACOs will offer coverage directly via the insurance exchanges that the ObamaCare law orders into being in 2014. These exchanges are where most Americans will eventually buy their "private" insurance -- and the White House is working to give the ACOs privileges that will let them undersell normal health insurers.

High-speed rail projects land in tug of war between governors
High speed rail is another liberal voting-getting boondoggle, that will present the tax bill to my granddaughter. And hers. ~Bob. Excerpt: When the Obama administration rolled out its initial investment to create a high-speed rail system across the U.S. in January, the program was hailed as a pivotal piece of the most significant upgrade of the nation's transportation system since the interstate highway network. But the program — along with the jobs it could create, environmentalists' desires to ease auto pollution and some travelers' hopes of eventually hopping a fast train in the nation's heartland — may have hit a speed bump after this month's elections. Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio, each awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds, have incoming Republican governors who have vowed to kill their intercity rail projects or are threatening to do so if they determine the projects will become a drain on taxpayers. The entire program is likely to come under review when Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., presumptive chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, assumes the leadership post next year.

Bam's lost weekend--Summit 'successes' all hot air
Excerpt: President Obama hailed as great successes the just-concluded NATO summit in Lisbon and his later meetings with European Union leaders. The outcomes of both, he argues, vindicate key aspects of his foreign policy, especially regarding Afghanistan. EU heads of government, faced with their own ongoing financial crisis, were also eager to declare victory. But the reality is far different. The meetings not only left the central questions of Afghan strategy unresolved, they highlighted the continuing error of Obama's misguided effort to hit the "reset button" with Russia, his inadequate support for missile defense of the American homeland and his economic policy failures at home and abroad. And just as Air Force One landed back in Washington, disturbing new revelations broke about North Korea's nuclear-weapons program. Obama's lackluster Asia visit earlier in the month had exposed several foreign-policy failures; the European trip and the North Korea news only reinforce the perception that his administration is in growing disarray.

Voter fraud charges alleged: Activist group singled out
I represented Northern Worcester County, down to, but, thankfully, not into the city. The T&G always gave me fair coverage. ~Bob. Excerpt: Poll observers who worked city precincts during the Nov. 2 state election have brought the Election Commission a number of allegations of voter fraud they said they witnessed at the polls. In sworn affidavits presented to the commission last night, most of their allegations were leveled against the community activist group Neighbor to Neighbor. The poll observers said they repeatedly saw representatives of the group accompanying people into voting booths and telling them how to vote. In some instances, they said Neighbor to Neighbor representatives actually went so far as to fill out the ballot for the person they accompanied. (Just business as usual in Worcester. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along, now. Ron. P.)

Obama’s airport security strategy dictated by CAIR
Excerpt: Obama claims that he’s told the U.S. Transportation Security Administration: “You… have to think through, are there ways of doing it that are less intrusive.” At this point, Obama said counterterrorism experts have told him that the current procedures are the only ones that they think can effectively guard against threats such as last year’s attempted Christmas-day bombing. “Either [President] Obama is being deceived or he’s doing the deceiving. Any cop worth his salt will tell you there are definitely alternatives to this intrusive and time consuming nonsense,” said former police detective and expert in interview and interrogation Mike Snopes. “The fact of the matter is that the Obama administration is bowing to the demands of groups such as CAIR and others who don’t want Muslims to be inconvenienced,” said Snopes. Truth be told, there are alternatives to the current heavy-handed security measures being used at U.S. airports: Psychological profiling and transactional analysis.

Gov. Christie: The problem here is not the teachers, it’s their union
When it comes to Governor Chris Christie, there is no better representative at pinpointing what is so egregiously wrong about the public education system in New Jersey: the teachers union. In a town hall meeting yesterday in Hackettstown, NJ, a man asked the governor, why is it that he has to demonize “good teachers” and falsely claim to students that teachers are the “greedy people” to blame for their lack of school supplies and poor education levels. In true Christie form, the Governor railed against such a distortion and pointed out to the gentleman that his contention is not against teachers, but against their union, who provides teachers 4-5% pay raises per year in a zero inflation economy as well as free health benefits for life without contributing anything to the system.

Iran's nuclear program reportedly struggling
Excerpt: Iran's nuclear program has experienced serious problems, including unexplained fluctuations in the performance of the thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium, leading to a rare but temporary shutdown, international inspectors are expected to reveal Tuesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. unit that monitors nuclear programs, will provide no explanation of the problems. But speculation immediately centered on the Stuxnet worm, a computer virus that some researchers say appears to have been designed specifically to target Iran's centrifuge machines so that they spin out of control. Iran denies the worm caused any problems. (...) Olli Heinonen, a former top IAEA official, said Monday at a meeting sponsored by the Arms Control Association that 3,772 centrifuges at the facility were being fed uranium gas and 5,084 machines were idle. "This indicates that there is a problem," he said. (This computer virus was first mentioned at TOJ on 26 Sep 2010 (Cyber War on Iran: the Siemens Connection), and several follow-up stories since. Just a reminder, yesterday the New York Times was upset and unhappy because the North Koreans revealed they had 2000 centrifuges working to purify uranium. The article quotes a former IAEA official saying the Iranians STILL have 3772 working. (Go, virus, go!) Of course, if it can be done to them, it can be done to us.... Ron P.

Police ID intruder found dead in Stratford home
Excerpts: Police have identified the man who broke into a Stratford home last week and grappled with the elderly homeowner before dying in the bathroom, but are still trying to piece together exactly what happened. Police say 18-year-old Joshua Hamilton of Bridgeport broke into the home on Friday, where he was confronted by 71-year-old Robert Smith. Hamilton said something about a knife, then punched Smith in the face, sending him tumbling down the stairs. He was not seriously hurt.

Woman who told Obama her financial fears has lost her job
Excerpt: Nobody is safe. Velma Hart, who burst onto the media scene after telling President Obama she was scared about her financial future, has been laid off. Hart was let go as the chief financial officer for Am Vets, a nonprofit Maryland-based veteran services organization. (Welcome to life. Americans have had the illusion of safety for long. Terrorists could set off A-bombs in Washington and New York tomorrow. Those who survived would be rooting for potatoes in our back yards to live. ~Bob.)

Hizballah's Brash U.S. Supporters
Excerpt: Green and yellow flags bearing an emblem of a hand grasping an assault rifle waved at a September rally in Washington. The flags of Hizballah, the Iranian-backed foreign terrorist organization, flying in the nation's capital, are a sign of defiance. For a group responsible for more American deaths than any terrorist group other than al-Qaida, whose leaders continue to view America as the enemy, Hizballah enjoys surprisingly open support within pockets inside the United States.

Backlash! Anti-Muslim hate crimes only eight percent of hate crimes, far less than those against Jews
Excerpt: The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has claimed that "anti-Muslim hate crimes" have risen sharply in the U.S. since 9/11. In fact, the rate of such crimes has actually dropped, and as this new study shows, it is quite low compared to hate crimes against other groups. CAIR exaggerates the number and seriousness of hate crimes against Muslims because it knows that victimhood is big business: insofar as it can claim protected victim status for Muslims in the U.S., it can deflect unwanted scrutiny and any critical examination of how jihadists use Islamic texts and teachings to justify violence and supremacism. That's most likely why CAIR and others have not hesitated to stoop even to fabricating "hate crimes." They want and need hate crimes against Muslims, because they can use them for political points and as weapons to intimidate people into remaining silent about the jihad threat.

Iran Nazi website allowed to re-open
There were questions about Iranian anti-Semitism? Who knew? ~Bob. Excerpt: An Iranian Internet site for devotees of Nazi Germany has been allowed to reopen after being blocked briefly by government censors, a news website reported, raising questions about the official attitude to anti-Semitism. The site,, says it is the home of the "Historical Research Society for World War Two and the Third Reich." According to conservative news website TABNAK it was blocked temporarily but then reopened, saying the suspension had been due to complaints by Iranian Jews. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has many times denied the Nazis' extermination of millions of Jews during World War II. Ahmadinejad angered Israel and its allies by calling the Holocaust a "myth" and a "lie" and has predicted the end of Israel as a state.

Empty promises on health care will haunt Obama
Excerpt: Barack Obama is only halfway through his term, but it's not too early to ask: What is the biggest whopper he has told as president? So far, the hands-down winner is: "No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." Obama made that particular pledge in a speech to the American Medical Association in June 2009, but he said the same thing, with slight variations, dozens of times during the health care debate. And now, exactly eight months after he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, we're seeing just how empty the president's promise was.

How to fight liberals
Excerpt: About this blog: David Kahane is a made-up persona – a Hollywood liberal who knows the secrets that lie deep in the hearts of the left wing and is more than happy to divulge them to aid conservatives in their battle for dominance. He provides his offbeat commentary for National Review online. Now he’s put his thoughts into a humorous guide, “Rules for Radical Conservatives: Beating the Left at Its Own Game to Take Back America,” recently released by Ballantine Books. Here, he reveals how conservatives – now that they have Obama and the Democrats on the ropes – can go for the knockout blow.--OK, you wingnuts, listen up. Yes, I’m talking to you, the enemies of His Excellency Barack Hussein Obama II, Lord of the Flies and Protector of the Holy Cities of Honolulu and Chicago, now in full-throated revolutionary cry. Just because you went ahead and elected the nation’s first Hispanic woman governor, the nation’s second Indian-American governor (and a woman at that), and not one but two black congressmen doesn’t fool us a bit. We know that, deep down in your incorrigibly racist, reactionary souls, you did that just to put us off our game. We’ll be ready for you next time.

Retrained for green jobs, but still waiting on work
Excerpt: With nearly 15 million Americans out of work and the unemployment rate hovering above 9 percent for 18 consecutive months, policymakers desperate to stoke job creation have bet heavily on green energy. The Obama administration channeled more than $90 billion from the $814 billion economic stimulus bill into clean energy technology, confident that the investment would grow into the economy's next big thing. The infusion of money is going to projects such as weatherizing public buildings and constructing advanced battery plants in the industrial Midwest, financing solar electric plants in the Mojave desert and training green energy workers. But the huge federal investment has run headlong into the stubborn reality that the market for renewable energy products - and workers - remains in its infancy.

Obama: On the Horns of a Dilemma
Excerpt: “When seeking office, the aspirant must pretend to be what he is not. After seizing power, he should impose his agenda quickly and ruthlessly before his subjects realize what he is doing and have time to react.” --Niccolò Machiavelli. With the underlying potential of upheaval within the Democrat Party and the Tea Party inspiring revolt against overreaching government, grassroots conservatives led a charge across the length and breadth of the United States on November 2, 2010 with the future of state, federal and local elections of 2012 in the balance. The Obama administration is on the horns of a dilemma. The November 2, 2010 election represented a strong repudiation of the Marxist-driven policies pushed upon this nation by the misguided, unqualified, totally out-of-touch and most likely one-term resident of the White House. The "Tea Party" patriots have also sent a strong message to the ruling class elitists’ Republican Party- their time will be up soon if they continue to obstruct the new conservatives who are coming to take back their party.

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