Monday, December 27, 2010

Political Digest for December 27, 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.

Now Up: Political Digest for December 24, 2010
This didn't post correctly. Up now if you want to review. Sorry. ~Bob.

Book Recommendation: Don’t Tell Me Words Don’t Matter
I’ve had this book on my shelf since I supported the author, Joel Pollak, in his campaign for congress last November. In my professional view, Joel ran a brilliant, but underfunded campaign in a hopelessly D+25 district. He’s one of those folks you meet that you know after a few minutes are brighter than you. As a Harvard law grad, not to mention a degree in Jewish studies from South Africa, I was more worried about clarity and writing for a general public, but this book is clear, easy to read (I finished in under a day), and well written. Nor does it miss the literary touches—I especially liked “pixels sliding across a teleprompter,” and will certainly plagiarize the phrase sometime in the future.

This is a conservative review of the 2008 election. Pollak is a conservative and was a McCain volunteer, so conservatives will like the book more than liberals. Pollak calls them like he sees them, and doesn’t hesitate to call out McCain’s and Bush’s strategic, tactical and policy errors as much as those of Obama and the left. I highly recommend this short but very readably history of the 2008 election, and what it means for our future.

Merry Christmas to me
I received 13 books. A couple of historical novels, a bio of Brute Krulak, several histories, books on current politics and issues, and The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, which is weightier than I realized when I asked Santa for it. That one may be used as a reference, as I may not have time enough in this life to read it.

Lawmakers seek cash during key votes
Excerpt: Numerous times this year, members of Congress have held fundraisers and collected big checks while they are taking critical steps to write new laws, despite warnings that such actions could create ethics problems. The campaign donations often came from contributors with major stakes riding on the lawmakers' actions. For three weeks in June, for instance, the members of a joint House and Senate committee worked to draft final rules for regulating the financial industry in the wake of its 2008 meltdown. During that time, the 35 members of the drafting committee collected $440,000 in donations from that same industry, which was then lobbying heavily for looser rules. Earlier this month, the chairman of the Senate committee overseeing tax policy, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), gave himself a birthday-party fundraiser - on the same day that the chamber took its first vote on an $858 billion tax package that would provide breaks to wealthy citizens and business interests.

As drone strikes have increased, so have assassinations, Pakistanis say
Excerpt: As drone-fired missiles drop with furious frequency in the tribal area of North Waziristan, so do the bodies. As often as seven times a week, tribesmen there say, corpses appear in fields and on roadsides with dark warnings pinned to their tunics: All American spies will meet the same fate. Espionage has long been viewed as an egregious offense in the lawless borderland, but residents say the current pace of assassinations is unprecedented. The escalation parallels a massive surge in CIA drone attacks on North Waziristan, home to a nest of insurgents that includes al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, an Afghan militia considered the most lethal foe of U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan. CIA drones have fired 112 missiles on Pakistan's tribal areas this year, 88 percent of which hit North Waziristan, in a campaign whose effectiveness is hotly debated. But tribesmen say the U.S. campaign has had far-reaching consequences for the way of life in North Waziristan and provoked cycles of violence that, once in motion, are difficult to predict and impossible to control.

The Spanish Ham Lawsuit and Other Muslim Problems Hitting Iberia
As soon as you recognize some people—not all-have a right not to be offended, they will never stop being offended, until your breathing offends them, and you must stop. ~Bob. Excerpt: A high school teacher in southern Spain is being sued for child abuse by the parents of a Muslim student who claims that the teacher "defamed Islam" by talking about Spanish ham in class. The case is one of a growing list of recent controversies that illustrate the increasing assertiveness of Muslims in Spain at a time when Spaniards are slowly waking up to the integration challenges posed by uncontrolled immigration from Muslim countries. Although Spanish legal scholars are divided over whether the lawsuit has real merit, nearly everyone agrees that the case has potentially major implications for free speech in Spain. They also agree that the constant threat of lawsuits will force Spanish school teachers to carefully consider their choice of words in the future.

And vhy are you not a party member, comrade? ~Bob. Excerpt: Americans are leaving states with heavy union influence and choosing to live in "right-to-work" states with higher job growth where they cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. With the 2010 census, nine congressional seats will move to right-to-work states from forced unionization states. And Americans elected a substantial majority of Republicans to the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress. People will be safe in 2011-12 from the Employee Free Choice Act, a union-supported bill that would take away workers' rights to a secret ballot in union elections and impose mandatory contracts between newly unionized firms and workers. But the Obama-controlled National Labor Relations Board isn't listening. It wants to do everything in its power to tilt the playing field toward unionization, even if it means lost jobs.

Too funny: So You Lost Your Election
Excerpt: Losing a job can be a challenging and stress-filled time. Especially during the holidays, and especially for someone like you - the soon-to-be former team associate of the United States Congress. At this moment, you may be packing boxes and moving vans with the cherished mementos and petty cash of your career in Washington. You may be wrapping those last-minute trillion dollar gifts and holiday earmarks for loyal supporters, phoning final farewells to your Washington colleagues, lobbyists, and "escort services." In many cases you may find that they, too, have lost their jobs -- and, if they haven't, will no longer return your calls. And in those lonely moments between, you ask: why me? Whether you're a recently displaced 23-term committee chairman or a formerly smug unemployed staffer with $180,000 of Georgetown student loans, it's important not to give in to despair. Psychological studies tell us a lost re-election campaign is the single most stressful event in the life of a congressional incumbent, even topping the indictment of a campaign contributor or an appearance at an unscripted town hall meeting. Also, a ballot box layoff is, next to death, the second-leading cause of leaving Congress. The good news is that there are positive, proactive steps you can take to reduce stress and smooth your transition to your new life in the great unknown outside I-95.

Should Children of Illegal Immigrants Automatically Be U.S. Citizens?
Don’t think these non-scientific polls mean much, but I vote anyway. ~Bob.

The green hijack of the Met Office is crippling Britain
Excerpt: The Met Office’s forecasts of warmer-than-average summers and winters have been so consistently at 180 degrees to the truth that, earlier this year, it conceded that it was dropping seasonal forecasting. Hence, last week, the Met Office issued a categorical denial to the Global Warming Policy Foundation that it had made any forecast for this winter. Immediately, however, several blogs, led by Autonomous Mind, produced evidence from the Met Office website that in October it did indeed publish a forecast for December, January and February. This indicated that they would be significantly warmer than last year, and that there was only “a very much smaller chance of average or below-average temperatures”. So the Met Office has not only been caught out yet again getting it horribly wrong (always in the same direction), it was even prepared to deny it had said such a thing at all. The real question, however, is why has the Met Office become so astonishingly bad at doing the job for which it is paid nearly £200 million a year – in a way which has become so stupendously damaging to our country? The answer is that in the past 20 years, as can be seen from its website, the Met Office has been hijacked from its proper role to become wholly subservient to its obsession with global warming. (At one time it even changed its name to the Met Office “for Weather and Climate Change”.)  (...) The reason why the Met Office gets its forecasts so hopelessly wrong is that they are based on those same computer models on which the IPCC itself relies to predict the world’s climate in 100 years time. (What can it possibly hurt to let a few harmless activists take over a minor agency like weather prediction? Ron P.)

Things we don’t know – about climate
Excerpt: This is a guest post by Paul Murphy – and I’d like to thank Mr. Watts for giving me this opportunity to present it here. This is a very long post by WUWT standards – nearly 3,000 words all driving toward the basic conclusion that what we know about global warming is pretty much nothing: we’ve no baseline, so don’t know if it’s happening; we’ve no cost/benefit evaluation so don’t know whether it would be net positive or net negative; if it is happening we don’t understand its causation and if it isn’t we don’t understand why not; and really the only thing we’re pretty sure of is that the people jumping up and down screaming that they have the answers are either deluded or charlatans. (...) So how does this extrapolate to sticking a thermometer into the troposphere to estimate our planet’s near ground air temperature? Well, in total the world has less than one sensor for every sixty thousand square kilometers; about three quarters of them are closely grouped in the United States, western Europe, and the militarily significant part of southeastern Russia; almost none have trustworthy time-of-readings records for more than a few years; most of the records are both short and discontinuous; most of the readings are accurate only within loose bounds; and an unknown proportion of the time series supposedly formed from instrument readings contain unknown interpolations. (Everyone interested in climate change should read this excellent article! As of this moment, there are 33 comments, all complimentary and none making any serious challenge to either the contents or conclusions. Emphasis in the excerpt added by me  Ron P.)

Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Shelbyville chief of police and a former Tyson employee confirmed that threatening messages surfaced this week, leading to extra security at the plant. “A couple days ago, they had a terrorist threat that was written on the bathroom walls that said ‘all Americans must die,’” said a woman, who said she wanted to remain anonymous to protect her relative, who works inside the plant. She said that she didn’t see the writing herself but is aware of what’s going on from others. “One day last week, someone set the women’s bathroom on fire, and they finally put a security guard at the bathroom door,” the woman said. She said workers are scared.

Sickening and scary: Historical Illiteracy
Excerpt: I am busy updating my English composition syllabi for the next semester and I came across the following 2008 Civics Quiz. Although I teach English literature and composition, historical events are often alluded to in the texts and over the years I have had to give historical background information to my students. Naturally, I felt compelled to answer the questions established by the Intercollegiate Student Institute American Civic Literacy Program who, for the past five years, has attempted to measure how well colleges and universities are transmitting American core values and history. The results from the schools of higher learning are very discouraging. This confirms the findings of David McCullough, who, in a 1995 address at the National Book Awards Ceremony in New York warned about the steady decline of historical knowledge among American students. He wrote in "Why History? Remarks by David McCullough in Acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, how "a young woman told [him] how glad she was to have attended [his] lecture, because until then, she explained, she had never realized that the original thirteen colonies were all on the eastern seaboard." This student was from an Ivy League university! (One of the things in my granddaughter’s Christmas Stocking was a box of Alamo Crackers, a Texas booth giveaway at a recent convention. Her mother, my 35-year-old step-daughter, asked what the “Alamo” was. To be fair, she is ignorant on a wide variety of topics, like earning a living, not just history. ~Bob.)

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science
Excerpt: “Maybe sometimes it’s the questions that are biased, not the answers,” he said, flashing a friendly smile. Everyone nodded. Though the results of drug studies often make newspaper headlines, you have to wonder whether they prove anything at all. Indeed, given the breadth of the potential problems raised at the meeting, can any medical-research studies be trusted? That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed. His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited; and he is a big draw at conferences.

Prediction for 2011
The Iranian government will brutally oppress its own people, stone women to death, fund terrorists around the world, hang homosexuals that its president says don’t exist, continue to try to destroy the Baha’i community, and again threaten to eliminate another country from the pages of time. In response, the UN Human Rights Council will pass a half a dozen resolutions attacking Israel. --Jamie Weinstein

Routing America’s Iran Policy Past the
Arab Street
This is an interesting look at the “nuclear Iran problem.” The author has some good points, but I’m not so sure about his conclusions. I’d prefer to see a solution that involved the Iranian Greens as our allies. Many things that would be acceptable coming from within would be utterly rejected if seen as being imposed from outside (you might call your little brother a booger, but that kid down the street better not let you hear him do it). Ron P. Excerpt: Arab leaders are as adept as any — arguably better than most — in the diplomatic art of seduction. When Arab diplomats tell their American counterparts what they think they want to hear, we should react with suspicion rather than relief. Our disbelief should not, however, be automatic. We should not assume that Arab heads of state are lying simply because they may not, at any given moment, find it necessary to utter the truth. Put simply, Arab leaders can detest America, and even work to see America out of the Middle East, without wishing the U.S. to fail against an ascendant Iran that threatens them too. Similarly, they can hate Israel and U.S. support for it, without wishing to make U.S. action on Iran hostage to the Sisyphean task of Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. Arab leaders know better than most that a conflict whose fires they themselves stoke — through funding radicals and anti-Israel incitement — isn’t about to be solved. For these leaders, seeing off America is a long-term issue, whereas stopping Iran going nuclear is an urgent one.

Hamas: Israel has two options - death or leaving Palestinian lands
Guess they are not for the “two-state” solution. ~Bob. Excerpt: The head of Hamas' armed wing warned Israel on Saturday against launching any new military action in the Gaza Strip, accusing Israel of attempting to escalate the situation. The statement came after days of renewed rocket fire on Israeli communities and Israel Defense Forces strikes in Gaza.

Death toll increases in Nigerian attacks
Merry Christmas from the Religion of Peace. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Christmas Eve attacks in the volatile Nigerian city of Jos have claimed at least 31 lives, a bloody aftermath in a region long torn by Christian and Muslim hostility. Gyang Choji, a special adviser to the governor of the west African country's Plateau state, confirmed the death toll on Saturday, and said 74 others were wounded. Most of the injured have serious wounds, and some of them suffered leg amputations. Seven blasts rippled through the city as residents celebrated Christmas Eve, four in the Kabong area and three in Angwa Rubuka. Choji cited a "lapse in security" by a special task force not "doing what they were expected to do."

More than 80 dead in Pakistan bombing and raids
Remember that CAIR has lobbied the administration to exempt women wearing burkas from TSA searches. What could go wrong? ~Bob. Excerpt: More than 80 were killed in a suicide bombing on a World Food Programme project and a series of helicopter raids against militant camps in Pakistan, officials said. A suicide bomber wearing a burqa, who some officials said was a woman, killed at least 41 people at a World Food Programme distribution point in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

Dutch Arrest 12 Somalis, Imminent Terror Attack On Christmas Eve
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Dutch police arrested 12 Somalis on Christmas Eve on suspicion of plotting an imminent terrorist attack in the Netherlands. The alleged plot was uncovered in a country seen as a potential target for militants over its former military role with NATO forces in Afghanistan and due to the growing influence of an anti-Muslim party at home. Twelve men aged between 19 and 48 were arrested late on Friday after a message was received from the Dutch intelligence and security service AIVD, prosecutors said in a statement. "The (AIVD) message reports that a number of Somalis wanted to make a terrorist attack in the Netherlands in the short term," the prosecutors said. They did not say what the intended target was.

AZ Sheriff Authorizes Lethal Force Against Cartels, Bandits
Excerpt: Drug smugglers and border bandits have been threatening citizens and law enforcement in southern Arizona for long enough and one county Sheriff is taking a stand. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has announced his police department plans to use deadly force, if necessary, to finally drive the dangerous criminals out of the area.

EPA Agrees to Limit Emissions From Power Plants, Refineries
Excerpt: Threatened with lawsuits from environmental groups, the Obama administration has agreed to issue another round of greenhouse gas limits for both power plants and refineries -- this time through a provision of the Clean Air Act that allows U.S. EPA to require pollution controls at both new and existing facilities. The agreement suggests the administration plans to press forward with its efforts to address climate change, despite the failure of the cap-and-trade bill in the Senate this year and the expectation of a backlash in Congress once regulation-averse Republicans seize control of the House next month. (EPA “agrees” makes it sound as if there was a big argument down in DC and those kind, accommodating folks at the EPA are going to do us all a favor and act as peacemakers. In fact, this has been threatened for nearly two years, and certainly no one from the power industry (or electricity consumer groups) had any impact on the decision. This is the result of giving undefined—which means unlimited—authority to unelected beancounters: to them, the whole world suddenly looks like beans. Ron P.)

No truce in Afghanistan: Dramatic pictures capture U.S. troops repelling a Taliban attack on Christmas morning
Excerpt: These stunning images show US troops repelling a Taliban attack on a combat post in eastern Afghanistan. Soldiers from the 2nd Platoon Bravo Company 2-327 return fires upon a sudden assault on Combat Outpost Badel in Kunar province, near the Pakistan border. The primitive hilltop base overlooks a valley, but stands in the shadows of larger mountains. Taliban insurgents attack the outpost an average of seven times a week. Quiet days or evenings often erupt with automatic weapons fire and the explosive crash of mortar rounds.

Emerald Guile: What Ireland's Bailout Means For Us
Excerpt: By now almost everyone glued to financial news outlets knows that the Republic of Ireland, population 4.5 million, is set to receive a whopping emergency loan bailout worth 67.5 billion euros (US$89.4 billion). Irish lawmakers, by a close margin, voted on December 15 to accept the terms of the package. Two-thirds of that sum will come from the European Union (EU), fresh from staving off collapse in Greece a half-year earlier; the other third will come from the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF). The average interest rate is 5.8 percent. Lurking somewhere in all this are lessons for America, no stranger lately to bailouts either. The rescue of the weakest links in the 16-nation euro zone, led by an increasingly recalcitrant Germany, likely will “work” – for now. But in bringing short-term stability, they also raise the risk of a more intractable crisis down the road. For if recipient nations of this largesse cannot pay back their loans – not inconceivable – they either must raise taxes to intolerable levels (triggering a capital flight and, paradoxically, foregone tax revenues), cut basic public services to the bone or ask other nations for help once more. Ireland’s crisis mirrors that of Europe.    

Le Manifeste de Paris
Excerpt: The ‘Islamization’ of Europe Conference, which took place in Paris, on the 18th December 2010, is a founding act. For the first time, orators coming from the whole of Europe shared one same platform to denounce the Islamic conquest at work on our continent. At the end of the Conference, the thirty-two parties, organizations, associations, websites and news blogs which supported this initiative agreed, beyond their different political orientations, on a common manifesto: We rise up against the aggressive proselytism of Islam, against the occupation of public space by muslim prayers, against the financing of mosques with public funds, against the development of the halal food market, against the fate reserved by Islam to women, as opposed to our principle of equality between women and men and, in general, against any advance of Islam on the soil of Europe, Faced with the ‘Islamization’ of Europe, we reaffirm our unfailing attachment to our multimillenial civilization, its values and traditions,

A Lawyer's Paradise
Excerpt: With an unemployment rate at the national outer limits of 12.4%, a state budget deficit of $28 billion, and rains that would have challenged Noah, Californians are in a glum mood this week. But that's no reason to take it out on the kids who may be the only happy citizens left in California. Tell that to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is suing McDonald's in California in the hopes of obtaining a court injunction banning Happy Meals. Only in California could such mindlessness float alongside a state crisis. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is representing the mother of a six-year-old girl in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all California children under the age of eight who have been exposed to McDonald's "inherently deceptive and unfair" marketing in the last three years. The suit claims that McDonald's has "engaged in a highly sophisticated scheme to use the bait of toys to exploit children's developmental immaturity and subvert parental authority" and that arguments over Happy Meals have caused "needless and unwarranted dissension in their parent-child relationship." Who can doubt that tableside Happy Meals arguments will be at the center of these kids' sessions with their shrinks in another 10 years?

Napolitano Scolds Reporter for Airing Complaints of Dead Border Agent's Family
Excerpt: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, leaving the funeral of a murdered Border Patrol agent Wednesday, scolded a reporter for asking her to address the victim's family's concerns that not enough is being done to secure the southern border. The family of agent Brian Terry had complained that Napolitano had offered them "empty words" when she called to express her condolences. Terry's father, Kent Terry, in an interview with ABC affiliate KGUN, said he told Napolitano to "wake your man up in the White House," to which she replied that he's done more in two years than any president.

Pakistan Arrests Nasiruddin Haqqani, Key Taliban Leader
Excerpt: Appearing to answer U.S. calls for greater toughness against Taliban networks operating on their border, Pakistan this week arrested the son of feared insurgent leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, according to the Taliban and Pakistani government sources. (...) The arrest of the younger Haqqani is significant. Nasiruddin Haqqani, who has relatives in the Arab Gulf region, is reportedly the Haqqani network’s key fundraiser and financial operative in the Middle East. (It is believed that Nasiruddin’s mother hails from the United Arab Emirates.) (Taking their lead from us, the Pakistanis will probably release him on bail tomorrow to celebrate Christmas. Ron P.)

Grandma got molested at the airport
Funny, but adult humor. “Her metal hip set the alarm off.”

Muslims in Denmark
Excerpt: However, in the ’90s disenchantment began to settle in, in parallel with the sudden explosion of immigrants from Islamic countries. The Danes came to a shocking conclusion as to how many Muslims already were living in the most important cities, and just how little if any desire they really had to integrate into Danish society. On the contrary, it became more and more clear that the leaders of the Muslims were beginning to attack the lifestyle of the Danes, using ever sharper language to express their contempt for so-called “Western decadence.” Only gradually and much too slowly did the Danes begin to comprehend that, with the Muslims, they had taken in a group that not only could not accept the core values of the Danes (belief in the freedom of the individual, freedom of speech, equality for women, tolerance for other ethnic groups) but also would attack those values with ever-increasing force. In the place of “Western decadence,” they would set up the archaic societal model of Islam, which they would institute over time in Denmark as the future and only model of faith and justice to be desired. Also, in Denmark as in other “lands of war”[j], Islam is working on a massive infiltration of the country with the goal in the meantime of making Denmark into an Islamic state. The Islamic Party of Denmark is already declaring an imminent takeover of power in Denmark. The central and single assignment of the party is eventually to make Denmark an Islamic state through the occupation of important positions by Muslims. Moreover, they have threatened that a “wrong” treatment of Muslim children will be met with the unleashing of unrest on the part of Muslims living there...

Muslims in Greenland
Excerpt: The island of Greenland belongs to the little country Denmark. However, for years now, the native inhabitants of Greenland, the Kalaalit, do not have the confidence to go out into their streets anymore. The reason for this: the Muslims will throw rocks at them, or they regularly attack them in some other way. The reason for this is incomprehensible and at the same time surreal: many adherents to this “religion of peace” see the Greenland natives as “infidels” and even as wild beasts that have no human rights at all. And even though the Danish government has attempted by many means to improve the situation between the Kalaalit and the Muslims, no improvement has been achieved, and in may cases the situation has worsened. Among the actions taken by the Danish government was the creation of an Internet site in the Arabic language in which they attempted to show that in dealing with the Kalaalit, the Muslim were dealing not with beasts but really with people. Already in 2007, the yearly traditional festival of the Kalaalit in Aarhus (every June 21st) could only take place under the purview of police protection. And in 2008, the festival didn’t even happen, the result the increasing Muslim violence against the Greenland natives...

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