Friday, December 10, 2010

Political Digest for December 10, 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.

Russian Swagger is Back?
Interesting comments about Russia from folks in the know, if you missed this post on my blog.

Must read: Wikileaks, Stuxnet, Cyberwar and Obama
Assange's followers are flakes. These are not Red Guards or Khmer Rouge; these are the potential victims of Red Guards and Khmer Rouge -- foolish, childish, spoiled, miseducated (and possibly ineducable), the dregs of millennial society. They exist in a dream reality, feeding on myths that any normal individual would reject half-heard: that the world is run by means of conspiracy. That capitalism is evil. That Marxism is about sharing. That 9/11 was an inside job. That Michael Moore and Joseph C. Wilson IV are heroic figures. And most of all, that a brave new world lies just around the corner if we only do the right thing. These people -- the lumpen-intellectuals -- have been bereft in recent months. Their last messiah let them down badly. It has been two years since 2008, and we're still in the bad old world, with Gitmo open, George W. Bush unarrested, and the oceans purportedly still rising. But now they have a new messiah, one whose prophecies remain tantalizingly vague and thus all the more enticing. What we have here is a religious war, with the left's true believers against everybody else. Fortunately, their method of fighting amounts to sending out e-mails deriding Bristol Palin. In this view, Assange is the latest of those peculiar historical figures who appear when a system is collapsing, vocally assuring its triumph while practically guaranteeing its extinction -- Savonarola in 15th-century Florence, Tenskwatawa and Sitting Bull among the 19th-century Indian tribes, Gorbachev in the last days of the USSR. This new crusade will end just as badly as they all do.

Important: China Clones, Sells Russian Fighter Jets
Excerpt: Today, Russia's military bonanza is over, and China's is just beginning. After decades of importing and reverse-engineering Russian arms, China has reached a tipping point: It now can produce many of its own advanced weapons—including high-tech fighter jets like the Su-27—and is on the verge of building an aircraft carrier. Not only have Chinese engineers cloned the prized Su-27's avionics and radar but they are fitting it with the last piece in the technological puzzle, a Chinese jet engine. In the past two years, Beijing hasn't placed a major order from Moscow. Now, China is starting to export much of this weaponry, undercutting Russia in the developing world, and potentially altering the military balance in several of the world's flash points.

China and its Double-edged Cyber-sword
Excerpt: A recent batch of WikiLeaks cables led Der Spiegel and The New York Times to print front-page stories on China’s cyber-espionage capabilities Dec. 4 and 5. While China’s offensive capabilities on the Internet are widely recognized, the country is discovering the other edge of the sword. China is no doubt facing a paradox as it tries to manipulate and confront the growing capabilities of Internet users. Recent arrests of Chinese hackers and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) pronouncements suggest that China fears that its own computer experts, nationalist hackers and social media could turn against the government. While the exact cause of Beijing’s new focus on network security is unclear, it comes at a time when other countries are developing their own defenses against cyber attacks and hot topics like Stuxnet and WikiLeaks are generating new concerns about Internet security. One of the U.S. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks focuses on the Chinese-based cyber attack on Google’s servers that became public in January 2010. According to a State Department source mentioned in one of the cables, Li Changchun, the fifth highest-ranking member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and head of the Party’s Propaganda Department, was concerned about the information he could find on himself through Google’s search engine. He also reportedly ordered the attack on Google.

Important: Iran Placing Medium-Range Missiles in Venezuela; Can Reach the U.S.
If this is true, I fear we will find that BO is no JFK. ~Bob. Excerpt: Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on western information sources[1], according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, of November 25, 2010. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit o Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on October19, 2010. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles. At a moment when NATO members found an agreement, in the recent Lisbon summit (19-20 November 2010), to develop a Missile Defence capability to protect NATO's populations and territories in Europe against ballistic missile attacks from the East (namely, Iran), Iran's counter-move consists in establishing a strategic base in the South American continent - in the United States's soft underbelly. According to Die Welt, Venezuela has agreed to allow Iran to establish a military base manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Venezuelan missile officers. In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an "emergency". In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for "national needs" – radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia. The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be deployed in the proposed base. It says that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, including intensive training of officers
Tuition Protesters Attack Car Containing Prince Charles, Camilla
Excerpt: Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and his wife Camilla, were not harmed after their car was attacked by London tuition hike protesters on Thursday, Sky News reported. A pack of demonstrators reportedly kicked the car in regent Street, in the heart of London's shopping district, and the car sped off.

House Dems reject tax-cut deal
Excerpt: The House Democratic Caucus on Thursday rejected the tax deal negotiated between the White House and Senate Republicans. The non-binding vote held during a closed meeting of the caucus puts tremendous pressure on House leaders to fight for changes to the proposal, and raises questions about whether the administration's deal will move to the House floor. I don't think there's any doubt that [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] will follow the caucus," Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) told reporters.

Inside Obama's Tax-Cut Gamble
A view from the left. Pity poor President Obama, the evil conservatives refused to roll over and play dead while the country was rebuilt into a soviet-style people’s republic. Ron P. Excerpt: Whatever the substantive case for the compromise, Obama’s decision—and his exasperated defense of the art of the possible at Tuesday’s news conference—made clear that he is steamed at elements in his own party as well as the press. The move signaled that whatever the level of vitriol, he is not going to change his measured, let-us-reason-together approach to the presidency, not even when a partisan brawl would make his supporters feel immeasurably better. Knowledgeable sources—who described how Obama became convinced that the Democrats couldn’t deliver something better—obviously want to portray a president motivated by principle. But the financial team was truly concerned about allowing an average tax hike of $3,000 in an anemic economy. Privately, Obama has expressed frustration that the liberal side—his side—has spent so much time sniping at him over the past year. The president, who reads several newspapers a day, believes the press has not adequately credited his accomplishments because it is obsessed with the day-to-day spin cycle.

Excerpt: As I explained in my last Health Alert, our problem is that we have smart people and dumb payment systems. The smart people are the patients and the doctors — each pursuing his own self-interest. The dumb payment systems are the reimbursement formulas of the large, bureaucratic, impersonal third-party payers. Although in popular lore, the big insurance company is the abuser of the hapless patient or the conscientious doctor, the truth is much more often the other way around. Doctors and patients are more likely to outsmart and abuse the insurance companies. The abuse occurs because everyone faces perverse incentives. Patients with first dollar coverage have an incentive to consume health care until its value approaches zero. Or, until it approaches the value of the time it takes to get the care. Patients aren’t ignoring value. Quite the contrary. They are seeking out care until the value equals the marginal cost of care to them. On the provider side, the perverse incentive is to maximize against reimbursement formulas. For example, if the formula pays for office visits, but doesn’t pay for phone calls or e-mail, doctors will schedule lots of office visits and avoid phone calls and e-mail. This isn’t an issue of quantity versus quality; it’s an issue of doing what you get paid to do. (Don’t most people in the world get paid to do what they do?)

Obama's disastrous path
The “Professional Left” is just against Obama because they are racists! Well, that’s what they said when we were against his policies. Can’t wait until the first white liberal calls Obama an “Uncle Tom.” ~Bob. Excerpt: Ronald Reagan famously quipped that the Democratic Party left him before he left the party. Like many progressive supporters of Barack Obama, I'm beginning to have the same feeling about this president. Consider what we've seen since the shellacking Democrats took in the fall elections.

Momentum for tax deal builds in Senate as critics leave door open
Excerpt: Leading members of the Senate Democratic conference predict the tax deal struck between President Obama and GOP leaders will pass the Senate, making the House the main battleground. As of midday Wednesday, only two on the left had said they would vote against the tax package: Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

The Myths Exposed By Wikileaks
Excerpt: Fifthly, the myth of morality and ethics being the guiding principles of the Obama administration. That they are not so is evident from the cable of the State Department to the US Permanent Mission in the UN Headquarters to collect personal details of the staff of the UN Secretariat. This is apparently for using those details to recruit the staff of the UN Secretariat for intelligence operations.

Barack Obama Vents Anger

The Income Gap and Deficit Reduction
Excerpt: Income inequality is the wrong focus for government policy. After all, if we doubled the income of every American tomorrow, inequality would actually increase -- but we would also lift a lot of Americans out of poverty. A more expensive government is a burden that will ultimately reduce growth and make it harder for the poor to move up the income ladder. In the context of deficit reduction, that means we should keep this goal in mind: not punishing the rich, but reducing poverty. And we know that in the long run, the best way to reduce poverty is to create more jobs and opportunity. Too many think of the economy as a fixed pie, and the role of government is to divide up the slices of that pie. If one person gets a bigger portion of pie, others of necessity get smaller pieces. But in reality the size of the pie is not fixed. We can pursue policies that grow a bigger pie, allowing a bigger slice for everyone.

Insourcing: The Secret To Job Growth
Excerpt: The Labor Department reported on Friday that the U.S. unemployment rate is now 9.8%, as the economy added only 39,000 jobs in November. Since the start of the Great Recession, America has lost nearly 7.3 million private-sector jobs. Today's 108 million private-sector jobs are the same number America had in April 1999. And unemployment, Federal Reserve officials predicted last week, will likely remain at 9% through 2011. Meanwhile, U.S. policy makers are fiercely divided over how to support job growth. The Fed's second round of quantitative easing triggered sharp criticism both at home and abroad, and fiscal prospects remain bleak, with little prospect for additional stimulus. So what is to be done if neither monetary nor fiscal policy will spur job creation? Last month a Survey of Current Business report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis suggested—perhaps accidentally—a promising new approach. The report documented a dynamic group of companies that create high-paying American jobs based on significant capital investment and export prowess—precisely the kinds of jobs America desperately needs to build a sustainable recovery.

Federal pay freeze plan wouldn't stop raises
Excerpt: President Obama spoke of the need for sacrifice last week when he announced a two-year pay freeze for federal employees. But feds won't be too terribly deprived in 2011 and 2012. Despite the freeze, some 1.1 million employees will receive more than $2.5 billion in raises during that period. Congress is expected to approve Obama's proposal, which cancels only cost-of-living adjustments for two years. Regularly scheduled step increases for the 1.4 million General Schedule employees — who make up two-thirds of the civilian work force — will continue. The size of those increases ranges from 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent and by law kick in every one, two or three years, depending on an employee's time in grade.

Hymns and Carols of Christmas
Incredible collection.

Democrats face tough climb back to the House majority in 2012
Excerpt: While House Democrats will almost certainly pick up seats in the 2012 election, it looks tough -- though not impossible -- at this very early date to imagine they will re-take the majority they lost in November thanks to a combination of micro and macro political factors. The micro story is best illustrated by the new House race ratings unveiled by Charlie Cook and his team at the Cook Political Report on Tuesday. Cook rates 20 Republican-held seats as either toss-ups or leaning toward the GOP while he carries four Democratic seats in the toss up category and another 11 in "lean Democratic". It's striking that despite the 63-seat Republican pickup on Nov. 2, there is (relative) parity when it comes to the number of seriously endangered districts the two parties will have to defend in 2012.

A Map to Break Your Heart
Excerpt: Take a good look at this map, for it affects your life more than you may realize. The situation on the ground that this map represents not only impacts us today, but to a large degree, will determine our future. No doubt the map will change over the next two years (this version dates from August 2010) — but we can be sure that some variation of it will be an important component in President West’s daily briefings. It is a map to break your heart… or at least, it breaks mine. I have always loved the people of Mexico. It breaks my heart that millions of them now live in unrelenting terror because their entire country (except for the remote Baja California peninsula) is under the control of the drug cartels. The huge cream-colored swaths on the map are the areas where two or more cartels are battling it out for control — and killing everyone in their way. Since 2006, when President Felipe Calderón took office and began a tough crackdown on the drug lords — a squeeze that, albeit necessary, has prompted them to intensify their fights over turf — there have been more than 28,000 drug-related killings.

Not Enough Doctors? Too Many? Why States, Not Washington, Must Solve the Problem
Excerpt: The states are far better equipped than the federal government to address increasingly complex and serious health care workforce issues. But by enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Congress swells the costs and role of the federal government, while ignoring the critical role that states can—and should—play as a consequence of their existing oversight of key workforce areas. Worse, the new health care law largely repeats the mistakes of the past: pursuing failed policies, while adding needlessly to federal spending, potentially deepening the budget deficit. Congress is, once again, committing the states to unfunded and underfunded federal mandates.

More Health Waivers
Here’s an idea. One more waiver. For the whole country from all provisions of ObamaCare. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Obama Administration has quietly granted even more waivers to one provision of the new federal health reform law, doubling the number in just the last three weeks to a new total of 222. One of the more recognizable business names included on the newly-expanded list of waivers issued by the feds is that of Waffle House, which received a waiver on November 23 for health coverage that covers 3,947 enrollees. Another familiar name was that of Universal Orlando, which runs a variety of very popular resorts in the Orlando, Florida area. Universal was given a waiver for plans that cover 668 workers. These waivers deal with limited health benefit plans, sometimes referred to as "mini-med" policies, which companies as large as McDonald's use for some its employees.

Except that every dollar in spending goes to some group who will fight much harder to keep it than all of us will fight to cut it. Almost everyone “benefits” someplace from Federal spending, and thinks that benefit is vital, whatever the rest of the budget is. Give me the power and a team of accountant, and I can balance the budget. After which I’d have to go into hiding to protect my life. ~Bob. Excerpt: Can America really reduce its debt and deficit without raising taxes to job-killing rates or cutting essential services to developing-world levels? The answer is not simply yes, it's that we have to. Raising government revenue - taxes - substantially is not only bad policy, it has proven difficult and ultimately unsustainable for any length of time in the past 60 years. Since 1950, annual government revenue, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), has averaged just below 18 percent despite every attempt to jack it up or tamp it down. Our post-World War II experience shows that if the government is going to live within its means, it can't spend much more than 18 percent of GDP. Period.

Baltimore man accused of plotting to blow up military recruiting station in Md.
When he converted, didn’t they tell him that “Islam is a Religion of Peace”? Shocking oversight. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Baltimore construction worker was charged Wednesday with plotting to blow up a military recruiting station in Maryland after the FBI learned of his radical leanings on Facebook, joined his plot and supplied him with a fake car bomb that he tried to detonate, federal officials said. Antonio Martinez, 21, a U.S. citizen who recently converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Hussain, declared on his Facebook page that he hates "Any 1 who opposes Allah." Those kinds of postings, brought to the FBI's attention, sparked an intensive investigation involving an undercover agent, a secret informant and a chilling plot to kill military personnel in the United States because they were killing Muslims overseas, according to an FBI affidavit filed Wednesday.

Out of residency issue blooms a rose — Rahm by any other name
Another great Kass column. ~Bob. Excerpt: Once upon a time there was a ruthless political operative who famously sent a dead fish to an enemy. This same insider also uttered a well-known line about how to use a crisis to your advantage. "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," said Rahm Emanuel a couple years ago. "And what I mean by that is, it's an opportunity to do things that you thought you could not do before." One thing Rahm couldn't do before was to convince people that he was some kind of delicate little flower being victimized by those rough Chicago politicians.

Excerpt: Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job. Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal legations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercings, then get a job.

MVD Employee Provided Drug Ring with IDs
Excerpt: A former employee with the state Motor Vehicle Division has been arrested, accused of supplying a major drug trafficking ring with fake drivers' licenses.
Cynthia Tapia was apprehended Tuesday night in Maricopa. She allegedly helped Mexican drug traffickers get fraudulent identification. Mesa Police say the drugs worked their way to New York, Michigan, Arkansas and New Mexico after coming across the Arizona-Mexico border. Those licenses helped the traffickers ship large amounts of drugs across the border, authorities say. The traffickers then sold the drugs, laundered the money, sending the proceeds back to Mexico.

House passes DREAM Act, but bill faces tough Senate vote Thursday
Excerpt: House lawmakers on Wednesday passed legislation allowing illegal immigrant students to remain permanently and legally in the United States. The DREAM Act — a top priority of Democrats in both Congress and the White House — was approved by a tally of 216 to 198. Eight Republicans crossed the aisle to vote in favor of the bill, while 38 Democrats voted against it.

Tax cut deal can't be changed, Biden tells House Democrats
Excerpt: Vice President Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday that the tax agreement the White House struck with Republicans was essentially final, forcing the divided caucus to decide whether to press its fight for changes in the package. "It’s up or down," Biden told the caucus in a closed-door meeting, according to Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.). "So far as the administration is concerned, it's take it or leave it," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), one of the most vocal critics of the tax deal, told The Hill after the meeting. "I would say [Biden] was pretty specific about that."

Berkeley May Honor Private Accused of Leaks
 Excerpt: The Berkeley City Council will consider a resolution that would declare the Army private suspected of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks a hero and call for his release. The council plans a vote Tuesday on the resolution in support of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is being held in a military brig in Virginia. A city commission already has approved it. (I vote to release him. Either at 5,000 feet over the Pacific without a chute, or naked as far south in Afghanistan as our troops can get him safely. ~Bob.)

WikiLeaks Cables Confirm Worst Fears of Climate Skeptics
Excerpt: The Guardian article is an amusing exercise in cognitive dissonance. The CIA wanted to collect intelligence on the other participants: CIA, ooh, bad! But it was to push through the global warming treaty. Wait. Global warming treaty, oooh, good! The Guardian writers clearly had some trouble deciding what they really thought. By the time the Copenhagen conference came around, domestic political considerations inside the Obama administration had far outweighed whatever scientific basis originally drove the negotiations. On the other side of the table, pious public mouthing of global-warming dogma was replaced by straight-out monetary transactions: if you want our agreement, come up with the most cash. And China, South Africa, Brazil, and India were working the process with both politics and less savory means, to make sure they had the leverage to get what they wanted. The lesson of the WikiLeaks climate cables turns out to be very much like the lesson of the Climategate files last year. The most surprising aspect of this story is how thoroughly the cables confirm the dark suspicions of climate skeptics. (With the whole western socialist system coming apart at the seams, the statists on the left remind me of Hitler’s subordinates jockeying for power and position in the Nazi hierarchy in March of 1945. ~Bob.)

Hackers Give Web Companies a Test of Free Speech
Excerpt: Some internet experts say the situation highlights the complexities of free speech issues on the Internet, as grassroots Web companies evolve and take central control over what their users can make public. Clay Shirky, who studies the Internet and teaches at New York University, said that although the Web is the new public sphere, it is actually “a corporate sphere that tolerates public speech.” Marcia Hofmann, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, “Any Internet user who cares about free speech or has a controversial or unpopular message should be concerned about the fact that intermediaries might not let them express it.” She added, “Your free speech rights are only as strong as the weakest intermediary.” (Free speech or we’ll kill you! –Ron P.)

Excerpt: The first item on this election campaign’s Contract with America was that, if elected (as they have been), the House Republicans would require that all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to Congress. We’ll see if that and the other promised reforms materialize, but it does raise yet another issue in the context of Obamacare. As my colleague Michael Cannon pointed out to me, the new health care law kicks congressmen out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. (The current FEHB is no different from the health coverage provided by any private employer -– federal employees choose from a series of private plan options (none of which is run by the government), and receive a subsidy from the federal government acting in its role as an employer.) My first reaction to hearing this was: Good — if the rest of us lose our health care freedom, so should those who forced this new atrocity on us. But apparently this result was not intended, so the Obama administration has decided to ignore that part of the law. 

Great Moments in Unintended Consequences
Worth viewing. When you think Government can solve your problems, think about this.

Great Toys for Tots Commercial
Of course we donated. “Marine First division” action figures, even though I’m a Third MarDiv guy. ~Bob.

How to Fight and Win the Cyberwar
Excerpt: We should think of cyberattacks as guided missiles and respond similarly—intercept them and retaliate. This means we need a federal agency dedicated to defending our various networks. You cannot expect the private sector to know how—or to have the money—to defend against a nation-state attack in a cyberwar. One suggestion recommended by Mr. Clarke is that the our government create a Cyber Defense Administration. He's right. Clearly, defending the U.S. from cyberattacks should be one of our prime strategic objectives. Few nations have used computer networks as extensively as we have to control electric power grids, airlines, railroads, banking and military support. Few nations have more of these essential systems owned and operated by private enterprise. As with 9/11, we do not enjoy the luxury of a dilatory response.

Atheists and Abortion, Si. Pot and God, No.
Excerpt: A marijuana advocacy group at Northern Illinois University could be effectively banned from the school’s campus, opening up the potential for a First Amendment case against the institute of higher learning. And like smoking weed itself, the case is bringing together several odd coalitions, as questions are being raised about the school’s definition of student organization, which appears to cover pro-choice and antiwar groups but not religious-tolerance organizations and pro-marijuana legalization advocates. Northern Illinois’ definition of “political and religious” and “social justice, advocacy” groups means organizations like the NIU Atheists, Agnostics, and Free Thinkers; Advocates for Choice; and Campus Antiwar Network have access to funds to promote their causes. Those denied funding include Christian, Jewish, and Muslim organizations; the Model U.N.; and the Committee for the Preservation of Wildlife.

Michael Moore Checks Into $4,500 Per Week Luxury Weight Loss Spa
Excerpt: It’s not even the new year yet, but Michael Moore is trying to lose a few pounds. The liberal filmmaker recently checked into a $4,500 a week luxury weight loss spa in Miami, a patron of the spa confirms...$4,500 a week is the minimum price the resort offers, for individuals, which is part of a fall special. It is unknown whether the Communist Cuban health care system, which Moore has praised, offers its citizens refreshing stays at luxurious weight loss resorts.

Trendy toys don't stand up to playthings of yore by John Kass
Excerpt: Yes, in the days before virtual toys, Americans had playthings called "real" toys. We had toy guns, even cap guns, and we played with swords, chemistry sets, wood burning kits, just about anything you could blind yourself with.

Would any Democrat really challenge Barack Obama?
Not likely. The Black Caucus would call the challenger a racist and the challenger would fold. No Dem would risk that. ~Bob. Excerpt: Some angry liberals may want to see President Barack Obama face a primary from his left in 2012, but they have no answer to a basic question: Who? Two of the Democratic Party's most well-known progressives — Howard Dean and Russ Feingold — have both indicated that they won't take on Obama, and there are few others who have the stature and willingness to mount a credible campaign against the president. Top leaders of the institutional left say they don't want a 2012 intra-party civil war. And as disillusioned as some in Obama's base may be in the wake of his tax deal- making with Republicans — and the frustration does seem to be at a high watermark — an array of Democrats said it is unlikely the president would face a challenge from within his own party.

Extreme Chinook Helicopter Landing
Dude can fly. ~Bob.
Look to Canada to see why Obamacare must be repealed
Excerpt: If you want to know what life under Obamacare will be like in the very near future, then I recommend a visit to Canada. Due to government rationing, healthcare in Canada has all but imploded since the institution of a universal single-payer system back in 1984. Since 1984 (a fitting date, if ever the was one) Canada has been one of only three countries in the world where private healthcare is illegal. The other two are North Korea and Cuba, in case you’re wondering. But it wasn’t always this way. Prior to 1984 the Canadian healthcare system was very likely the best in the world with the availability of both publicly funded and privately paid healthcare. Back in those days a call to one’s family doctor resulted in an appointment usually within 24-hours. Referrals to a specialist on average took less than a week and treatment thereafter did not involve unreasonably long wait times.

Kate Smith introduces God Bless America
From the e-mail forward, no credit listed: In early 1940, Kate Smith, a fiercely patriotic American, and the biggest star on radio, was deeply worried about her country. She asked Irving Berlin if he could give her a song that would reignite the spirit of American patriotism and faith. He said he had a song that he had written in 1917, but never used it.  He said she could have it. She sat at the piano & played it and realized how good it was. She called Mr. Berlin and told him that she couldn't take this from him for nothing. So, they agreed that any money that would be made off the song would be donated to the Boy Scouts of America. Thanks to Kate Smith and Irving Berlin, the Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties. This clip is from the movie "You're in the Army Now". You will see a familiar face in this-one that we are all very proud of. Frank Sinatra said that when Kate Smith, whom he considered the greatest singer of his age, first sang this song on the radio (there was no TV), a million guys got 'dust' in their eyes and had to wipe the tears the 'dust' caused. Sit back and enjoy a Real Star.  

U.S. House Passes Bill on Drug Cartels Growing Marijuana in National Parks
Excerpt: The bill points out that law enforcement efforts to date have only brought about "short-lived successes in combating marijuana production on Federal lands" but offers no suggestions for solutions that would actually hurt the cartels in the long-term. The law enforcement officials at LEAP believe that legalization is the only long-term solution, and if the bill is enacted into law they will be working to make sure that the White House drug czar's office seriously weighs ending prohibition as part of the strategy called for by the legislation.

The WikiLeaks Vindication of George W. Bush
Excerpt: Wired magazine's contributing editor Noah Shachtman -- a nonresident fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution -- researched the 400,000 WikiLeaked documents released in October. Here's what he found: "By late 2003, even the Bush White House's staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But WikiLeaks' newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction (emphasis added). ... Chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam's toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict -- and may have brewed up their own deadly agents." In 2008, our military shipped out of Iraq -- on 37 flights in 3,500 barrels -- what even The Associated Press called "the last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program": 550 metric tons of the supposedly nonexistent yellowcake. The New York Sun editorialized: "The uranium issue is not a trivial one, because Iraq, sitting on vast oil reserves, has no peaceful need for nuclear power. ... To leave this nuclear material sitting around the Middle East in the hands of Saddam ... would have been too big a risk."

Putting a Gun to the Public’s Head
Excerpt: Government's most essential function is to protect citizens. All other services are secondary. Camden, N.J., is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, according to FBI statistics analyzed by CQ Press. In fact, Camden was rated the "most dangerous city in America" in 2003, 2004 and 2008, just missing the top spot in 2009. (St. Louis edged it out). Camden has neighborhoods that aren't safe in broad daylight, much less at night. So what did the city fathers of Camden do when faced with a $25.5 million budget deficit? They voted Thursday to lay off 200 police and firefighters along with 200 other city workers. Council President Frank Moran suggested that citizens' concerns about the soon-to-be-even-meaner streets be directed toward Trenton and fiscal conservative Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican. "We didn't put a price tag on public safety. Unfortunately, the governor of the state of New Jersey put that price tag on it," he said at the meeting. It's the typical liberal gambit: Having loaded the public rolls with unionized government employees doing all sorts of nonessential things, the politicians go for the jugular to get the public's attention.

WikiLeaks avoids shutdown as supporters worldwide go on the offensive
Excerpt: Over the past several days, the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks has been hit with a series of blows that have seemed to threaten its survival. Its primary Web address was deactivated, its PayPal account was frozen, and its Internet server gave it the boot. The result: WikiLeaks is now stronger than ever, at least as measured by its ability to publish online. Blocked from using one Internet host, WikiLeaks simply jumped to another. Meanwhile, the number of "mirror" Web sites - effectively clones of WikiLeaks' main contents pages - grew from a few dozen last week to 200 by Sunday. By early Wednesday, the number of such sites surpassed 1,000. At the same time, WikiLeaks' supporters have apparently gone on the offensive, staging retaliatory attacks against Internet companies that have cut ties to the group amid fears they could be associated with it. On Wednesday, hackers briefly shut down access to the Web sites for MasterCard and Visa, both of which had announced they had stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks.

Casting liberal allies aside will hurt Obama in the long run
Excerpt: What does President Obama think of those who fought and bled to pass his bills in Congress (in some cases losing in this year's election for their pains) while also defending him against wild charges from the right wing? Are they among the liberals he described as "sanctimonious," who long for the "satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people"? Obama's comments make you wonder: Whom does he think he can count on when conservatives try to repeal the health-care law, force cuts in programs he supports, investigate his administration down to the last pencil and continue to denounce him as an un-American socialist?

Hamas: Allah, kill Christians and Jews "to the last one"
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. Your tax dollars at work, supporting Hamas through the “Peace Process.” But don’t be afraid of these folks who want to kill you, because that would be “Islamophobic”! ~Bob. Excerpt: A video on official Hamas TV calls for Allah to kill Jews, Christians, Communists and their supporters. The video asks Allah to "count them and kill them to the last one, and don't leave even one." As Palestinian Media Watch has reported this call for the killing of non-Muslims was a regular pronouncement by both Palestinian Authority (Fatah) and Hamas political and religious leaders for many years starting in July 2000. For years, sermons by religious leaders on official Palestinian Authority TV under Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas routinely presented the killing of Jews as a religious obligation and a fulfillment of the Islamic ideal.

Another publication discovers U.S. on verge of energy independence without green fuels
Excerpt: Toronto's Globe & Mail quotes a UN report that includes this observation: "Within a decade or so, North America will almost certainly emerge as the world’s biggest supplier – and exporter – of reasonably cheap energy." How can that be? As The New York Times reported last month, it's because the U.S. is incredibly rich with natural gas and oil shale deposits that can be reached affordably using hydraulic fracturing, the injection of liquids into rock formations thousands of feet below the drinking water table.

'Don't ask, don't tell' procedural vote fails
Can’t Obama as CiC just order the military to stop DADT discharges? Maybe he wants to keep DADT, but be able to blame the GOP. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Senate procedural vote to move forward with debate on a bill ending the military's "don't ask, don't tell" law failed Thursday to earn the 60 votes necessary to proceed. Senators voted 57 to 40 against proceeding with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained language ending the ban, as Republicans held firm on a vow to block any legislation that does not address tax cuts or government spending.


  1. I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You :-)


  2. Bob
    I'm sure you have probably seen this before as it is three years old. But today was the first time I saw it and it was very moving.