Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Political Digest for December 8, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

The Old Jarhead blog passes 1,000 followers!
Thanks to all who read it, all who feed it and all who pass it on! ~Bob.

“I’m Tired” interview on Australian Talk Radio
Click on the play arrow at the top to hear it, but note it was a fairly long interview. He read “I’m Tired” first, than talked to me at length. Here are some comments that were posted afterwards: “I heard your interview on 4bc radio in Australia - I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of where America (and indeed the entire West) is heading. I am about to turn 60 and my husband is 61. Both of us get the sense that we will be departing this earth at the right time. Humanity itself is out of control and is about to implode with catastrophic consequences. The problem with the 21st century is that world economies are built on endless growth, exacerbated by greed, which at the end of the day are unsustainable. Yes, we have lived our lives in the best of times....but millions of our children and grandchildren will not have the same deal. They will be working longer, and dying sooner than us baby boomers. As an Australian it makes me cry to see the slow death of the West as countries we lesser values rise to take our place. Those people here that deride your wise words will be those least able to cope with what is surely coming down the pike.” Lady P. -- “I heard you're "I'm tired" on Australian Radio 4BC and I totally agree with many of your points. There is no doubt that the collective conscience needs to be lifted. Having a great sense of right and wrong and the courage to say it is a highly admirable quality indeed. Take care and good health wishes.” Brisbane Listener. -- …. I heard you on 4BC Brisbane Radio this morning and totally related to your thoughts on the world today and what an unholy mess we have made of it. Your poem "I'm Tired" shares the same opinions I have had in recent years even though mine relate to Australia more than the U.S. Like you, I'm glad I was born post war (1946) because I won't be around to see the results of negligent politicians, believe me... we have some in the State of Queensland who seem hell bent on destroying this state for future generations. Our Federal leaders are no better! I've watched in horror the decay in this country since the 80's. We've become a "Nanny State". We can't discipline our children, they can leave home at 14 if they can dream up a story of emotional abuse from their parents. The government provides them with money for support so they team up with other children, rent a unit or house and pool their money for food, booze and drugs. No-one from the government checks them to make sure they are O.K. Mrs. J. F., Hervey Bay, Qld. Australia.

Rhetoric Rides Again by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Let's face it, politics is largely the art of deception, and political rhetoric is largely the art of misstating issues. A classic example is the current debate over whether to give money to the unemployed by extending how long unemployment benefits will be provided, or instead to give "tax cuts to the rich." First of all, nobody's taxes -- whether rich or poor -- is going to be cut in this lame duck session of Congress. The only real issue is whether our current tax rates will go up in January, whether for everybody or nobody or somewhere in between. The most we can hope for is that tax rates will not go up. So the next time you hear some politician or media talking head say "tax cuts for the rich," that will just tell you whether they are serious about facts or just addicted to talking points. Not only are the so-called "tax cuts" not really tax cuts, most of the people called "rich" are not really rich. Rich means having a lot of wealth. But income taxes don't touch wealth. No wonder some billionaires are saying it's OK to raise income taxes. They would still be billionaires if taxes took 100 percent of their current income.

Obama, GOP reach deal to extend tax breaks
Excerpt: President Obama and congressional Republicans have reached a tentative accord on a far-reaching economic package that would preserve George W. Bush administration tax breaks for families at all income levels for two years, extend emergency jobless benefits through 2011 and cut payroll taxes by 2 percent for every American worker through the end of next year.

Pelosi attacks Obama-GOP tax plan as House Democrats signal fight
So much for bi-partisanship, the old chimera. ~Bob. Excerpt: House Democrats signaled Monday they will fight the tax-cut deal President Obama announced a day earlier with Republicans. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday there was "no consensus or agreement reached by House leaders" on the deal Obama negotiated with the GOP, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized GOP provisions in the agreement.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested on Swedish warrant
Unfortunately, this will not be followed by the speedy fair trail and the firing squad. Sigh. ~Bob. Excerpt: Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks Web site whose release of sensitive U.S. documents on the Internet has generated outrage and embarrassment in official circles, was arrested by British police Tuesday morning on a Swedish warrant and faced the prospect of extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations. (I fervently hope this turns out to be something that'll keep this bastard behind bars and in courts for a long time, and reveals him fully as the self-centered, arrogant, and utterly irresponsible jerk that he is. My only regret is that he probably won't get to share a cell with a 250 lb "affectionate" guy known only as Bubba. --Del)

WikiLeaks Boss Assange Refused Bail
Excerpt: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said he will fight moves to extradite him to Sweden after he was refused bail at a court appearance in London. (...) WikiLeaks, which has seen its bank accounts cancelled and its websites attacked since releasing the US diplomatic cables, has vowed to keep operating as normal despite Mr Assange's arrest. WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told Sky News the website would continue with its plan to make more releases today and in the coming days despite the "outrageous attack on the fundamentals of speech and the press".

Newt Gingrich's inner circle
Excerpt: With Gingrich teetering on the edge of a presidential candidacy, now seems like the right time to take a look at the people he is consulting with as he makes a final decision on a bid. Gingrich, more so than any other politician -- with the possible exception of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels -- keeps his own counsel and is his own best political strategist. But, he still has a (small) inner circle of advisers, all three of which have been with him for a decade or more. Check them out below. And don't forget to read our inner circle pieces on Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Reform Fails To Fix Uninsured Problem
Excerpt: Unfortunately, there's far more to this story than meets the eye. Simply put, the CDC and the Census Bureau have misdiagnosed the extent of the uninsured problem — and the president has prescribed an ineffective, and even harmful, remedy.

Senate Republican to push states' rights in response to healthcare law
Excerpt: A Republican senator is planning on introducing legislation this week that would allow state officials to challenge federal regulations before they go into effect.

“Zombie” satellite shuts down critical NOAA NWS systems overnight
Excerpt: Supposedly, the satellite data problem was solved last night at 6:59 UTC, but we were still down two hours later. I put in a call to the NWS Telecommunications people and asked for help. They seemed clueless, and wanted to know “What Air Force base are you with?” when I mentioned NOAAPORT, giving me my first clue that the problem was even more widespread. There are a number of Met support offices at AFB’s that use NOAAPORT also. I left a number, and about 30 minutes later got a call back. They said we should be getting data, but in fact we weren’t, they said “we’ll look into it further” which is usually code for “we don’t know why”. About an hour later, about 4:00 AM PST I got a call from a tech who said that he had noticed my trouble ticket, and told me very matter-of-factly that “you probably haven’t been given all of the information you need”. He then proceeded to tell me that to solve the problem of the data outage (and at that time, I had no idea what was causing the problem) they had to switch transponder frequencies, and that I had to set my receiver to a new frequency. Did that, and it came right up. Whew! (First, you need to understand Anthony Watts of WUWT makes his living running a weather service on the west coast. So, this is critical information to his business. What concerns me is the third sentence of the excerpt. Currently, they are thinking this was caused by a solar storm last spring; but, what if it’s more Chinese hacking? Ron P.)

WikiLeaks Proves Obama’s Dereliction of Duty
Excerpt: The leaked memos confirm that our leaders are fully aware that our nation’s enemies are engaging in activities to undermine the United States. Yet armed with this knowledge, Barack Obama continues his foreign policy of appeasement. We’ve learned that terrorists now have access to nuclear material through a known state sponsor of terror. And the president’s inept policy of “let’s just talk more” remains the administration’s de facto position. It seems that all this “foreign affairs” stuff is just a distraction to this president. It’s really cutting into to his agenda of remaking America. It is now all too clear that defending this nation from our enemies is the last thing on the president’s mind. In this case, what we don’t know will hurt us.

Breitbart nukes White House: MASSIVE Pigford Black Reparations Scam document dump today
Excerpt: Obama is set to sign into law the Pigford Black Reparations on Wednesday. Breitbart has dumped all of these documents today to make this an albatross around Obama’s neck. He has a choice: either sign this bill and distribute those black reparations and suffer the consequences as Americans start waking up to what is going on, or veto it because it is riddled with fraudulent claimants.

Schwarzenegger Proposes $9.9B in Cuts
Leave it to Governor-elect Moonbeam. ~Bob. Excerpt: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a fiscal emergency and is asking lawmakers to meet in a special session to save the state $9.9 billion over the next two years. (The fiscal implosion of NY, IL, MA, and CA is rapidly approaching. There is already talk of the imminent collapse of Illinois and the possible resultant consequences. These states will not be bailed out by the current congress. USA doesn’t have the money anyway! Going to be interesting to watch California go belly up. I heard today that there are possibly 6000 families leaving California-----A DAY! –TC)

Navy petty officer accused of trying to sell classified military documents to undercover agent
Excerpt: A Navy intelligence specialist at the Joint Special Operations Command has been accused of taking top secret documents from military networks and offering to sell them to an investigator posing as a foreign agent.  Petty Officer Bryan Minkyu Martin was arrested last week by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, after a sting operation in which he passed classified documents to an FBI undercover agent claiming to be an intelligence officer of a foreign country, according to the affidavit for a search warrant filed last week in a federal court in North Carolina. (The more I think about this the more appalled I become. This SOB intended to make a CAREER of being a spy. He really didn’t care who he did it for, as long as the money was right. May I PLEASE have the honor of being on his firing squad? Ron P.)

The Injustice Department
Excerpt: The Justice Department stonewalled efforts by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to investigate the dismissal of a civil complaint against the New Black Panther Party, leaving open the question of whether the department is willing to pursue civil rights cases "in which whites were the perceived victims and minorities the alleged wrongdoers." Stonewalling? By Eric Holder's Justice Department? Is this the conclusion of some rightwing group? No, it's the conclusion of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. But don't worry: they released the report on the weekend, thereby assuring that it would disappear with scarcely a ripple. (One begins to think the new Justice Department is not interested in eliminating discrimination, but in forcing discrimination against whites to make up for past discrimination against blacks. And thus to keep racism alive as racism is vital to the Democrat party. Without it, how would they keep black votes on the plantation? ~Bob.)

Liberal Math
Excerpt: I grew up in a Democratic household. The talk at the family dinner table in the early sixties, to the degree it touched on politics, concerned the minimum wage, 40-hour work week, overtime pay, civil rights, disability insurance, or bond money for school construction and teacher training. In other words, it was a sort of “level the playing field” to ensure equality of opportunity. I don’t recall discussions about the evils of American foreign policy, racial quotas, drug legalization, open borders and amnesty, the need for gay marriage, or abortion on demand. I do remember the national spokesmen whom we were supposed to admire — Pat Brown, Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey — did not look or act like John Edwards or John Kerry.

Liberal Dems to Obama: Fight harder
Fight harder—the people are beating us! ~Bob. Excerpt: Resentments between President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats that began simmering even before their midterm disaster are nearing the boiling point on Capitol Hill, as liberals make clear that Obama’s efforts to strike a lame-duck deal with Republicans will come at a cost: open and on-the-record taunting about whether the president is a patsy. "This is the president's Gettysburg," Rep. Jim McDermott, a leading progressive and a subcommittee chairman on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, told POLITICO Monday. Referring to Obama’s choice about whether to compromise or stand firm against Republicans on the question of higher taxes for the wealthy, the Washington Democrat said: "He's going to have to decide whether he's going to withstand Pickett's Charge ... I worry."

GOP rises, DREAM Act falters
Excerpt: To see how dramatically the immigration debate has shifted, look no further than Orrin Hatch. The Utah Republican was the chief sponsor of the DREAM Act when it was first introduced in the Senate in 2001 and, later, in 2003. But now, worried about a potential tea party challenge in 2012, Hatch is steering clear of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. On Wednesday, immigrant advocates who have been engaged in this fight for nearly a decade will very likely see the DREAM Act sputter again with a feeble lame-duck vote. And with it, any chance for broader immigration reform may be dead for the foreseeable future — potentially for years. (Even if this was a good idea, not the time to be adding entitlements to government. ~Bob.)

Who's the Most Popular Modern President?
Excerpt: Bush Appears to Be Vindicated, writes James Hohmann at Politico: "Bush's 47 percent approval rating also raises serious questions about the wisdom of the White House's decision to relentlessly attack him in the months before the Democrats' historic losses in the midterm elections." The "rebound," he continues, also "gives some credence to what he has long said--that history will eventually judge his presidency."

Excerpt: Now we have yet another TSA outrage. Something tells me the media would be much more worked up by this if George Bush were still President. Oddly enough, in an era when the press is falling all over itself to highlight bipartisanship, here is an issue uniting the left and right. In this edition of TSA Outrage, we have a mother who didn’t want her breast milk going through the x-ray machine, which held her up 30 minutes. On her next trip through the airport, the same TSA agents detained her for more than an hour even after she gave them a copy of the TSA guidelines exempting breast milk from the x-ray machine.

Majority of Muslims worldwide misunderstand Islam, want Islam in politics
Excerpt: When Oklahoma passed its anti-Sharia law, Muslims in the U.S. indignantly characterized as "Islamophobic" the notion that they would ever, ever, under any circumstances at any time, want to bring Islamic law to this country. Islamic supremacist pseudo-moderate Reza Aslan has claimed falsely that "no American Muslim, zero, absolutely none, not a single one has ever, ever called for the imposition of Shariah in America." In reality, Honest Ibe himself, Ibrahim Hooper of Hamas-linked CAIR, has said he would like to see the U.S. Government become Islamic sometime in the future, and the Washington, D.C. imam Musa has called for Muslims to work for the establishment of an Islamic State of America by 2050. And in saying such things, they reflect a view confirmed by this new poll: that Islam is inherently political, and its political aspect cannot be separated from its religious aspect. "Majority of Muslims want Islam in politics, poll says," by Meris Lutz for the Los Angeles Times, December 6.

50 die in twin Taliban suicide attacks in Pakistan: official.
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace memo. Maybe they read Sura 9:111 from the Qur’an, which promises paradise to those who slay and are slain for Allah. Excerpt: Two suicide bombers Monday targeted a meeting of pro-government tribal elders in a Pakistani tribal region and killed at least 50 people, officials said. Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed the responsibility for the attacks, sources told Xinhua. The bombers, riding motorcycles, struck the government office at Ghalanai, the headquarters of Mohmand tribal agency, regional official Shams-ul-Islam said.

I’d like to see Coburn in the White house, but gather he wants to go back to practicing medicine after this term. ~Bob. Excerpt: Coburn’s eight-minute speech made a few nods to data and policy, but was more of a plea for a wholesale change in American culture. “Nobody is looking at what the real problem is. And the real problem is us,” said the recently bearded Oklahoma Republican. “We have way too much government and not enough of the thing that made America great, which is independence, personal responsibility and self-reliance,” he said. “We have abandoned the principles which made America exceptional, which wasn’t the government. It was the people. It was us relying on ourselves, not saying I can take a pass and depend on the government.”… …The senator said that historically democratic republics only last about 200 years before they “rot from within” and then are conquered militarily. “And we’re rotting. We’re rotting as we sit here and speak today,” he said. But he said the committee could help set a different course to “cheat history.” “History says we’re not going to make it,” he said…

Excerpt: Police in western New York have charged 33 people so far in an investigation that shows a new kind of supplier in the illicit drug trade. Police said medical patients, including many who rely on Medicaid for prescriptions, have become a popular way to get drugs like OxyContin to the street. The patients see a doctor, or several doctors, and come away with prescriptions they sell to a dealer for as much as $1,000. Drug Enforcement Administration agents said the dealer can get $7,200 for the pills in that one bottle.

Excerpt: The main reason why a country might choose to leave the euro is to regain the monetary independence it sacrificed on joining and to set monetary policy to suit its own economic conditions. This could apply to the strong as well as the weak. Germans may long to have the Bundesbank in charge again. It would surely not take risks with long-term inflation, by keeping liquidity lines open to weak foreign banks, or with its political independence, by buying government bonds. And given the strength of the German economy, it might raise interest rates soon. As it is, the European Central Bank (ECB), though based in Germany and modelled on the pre-euro Bundesbank, has had to react to the economic and financial weaknesses of the rest of the euro zone in ways that Germans do not like. Add to this taxpayers’ disgust at having to stand behind the public debts of less thrifty countries, and the idea of abandoning the euro looks enticing to some Germans. That appeal might extend to countries, such as Austria and Netherlands, with strong economic ties to Germany. They might prefer to join a new D-mark block than to stay with the euro, were Germany to leave.

When Black Meant Republican
Excerpt: It’s easy to forget now, but just a few generations ago African-Americans overwhelmingly identified themselves as Republicans. The story of how the Party of Lincoln lost its black support is long and sad, but understanding what happened will be critical as the Party looks to improve its standing in the black community. You could start the story in the fall of 1895, when Atlanta put on one in a series of “International Expositions” designed to highlight its progress in recovering from the war. Racial tensions had been growing since Southerners, at the end of Reconstruction, began instituting Jim Crow laws to curtail black civil rights. Those laws were under challenge at the time and there were differences among blacks on the merits of direct resistance. The organizers of the Exposition invited prominent black leader Booker T. Washington to give a keynote address. The position he took in that speech was a calculated gamble that aimed to improve blacks’ social position by aggressively pursuing progress and abandoning political agitation. The approach he outlined became the dominant black ethos for generations. It was a dizzying failure with consequences we are still working to unwind…..About the Author: Chris Ladd is a Texan who is now living in the Chicago area. He has served for several years as a Republican Precinct Committeeman in DuPage County, IL, and was active in state and local Republican campaigns in Texas for many years.

Postcards of Lynching in America
Hard to view, but important history. Linked in the above article.

Poll on Afghanistan War

Funny: Economics of Bailouts
This has been going around the net in various versions, with no author credited. Sounds like a typical government program. No wealth is created, but everyone does okay. ~Bob. It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, and stops at the local hotel. He lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him the keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that is how the bailout package works! You will also recall that this procedure has been practiced elsewhere with the similar results and may shortly become regular procedure in Portugal and Spain.

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